OPEN Forum / Community Conversation On Older People's Health Hailed As Success

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OPEN Forum / Community Conversation on older people's health hailed as success

An event giving people in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire the opportunity to talk about how health services for older people are commissioned and provided has been hailed a success.

Well over 100 members of the public attended last week’s  Older People’s Engagement Network (OPEN) event held at The Kings Hall in conjunction with Stoke and North Staffordshire CCG’s Community Conversation. Unsurprisingly, the focus of the event was health provision for older people living in both Stoke and North Staffordshire and gave members of the public the opportunity to speak directly to health commissioners and other NHS representatives to give their views on what health provision should look like in the area.  Whilst there was an opportunity for NHS service users to speak about broad provision, health professionals were also very interested in getting feedback around specific topics such as the prevention of falls (one of the single biggest factors behind hospital admissions for older people throughout the area) along with how user of the NHS like to receive information and communications around services.

People could also speak to 40 representatives of 19 community groups and charities, including Changes Health & Wellbeing, Action for Blind People, Healthwatch, the Slips & Falls service at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and Action on Hearing Loss.

Attendees listened to presentations by Dr Mark Williams of Leek Health Centre, John Larkham of Age UK North Staffordshire, Sally Parkin from Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire CCGs and Tracey Preston from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

In a workshop session, people were asked for their views on what services should be available to better support patients aged 50+ to stay healthy, independent and out of hospital.

They discussed how patients could be helped to prevent slips, trips and falls and how local organisations could work together to help reduce falls for older people. The CCGs also asked how they could best communicate with patients to let them know about what services were available to them and how they could best access them.

The views of the public will be analysed and used to help make future decisions about providing health services for older people.

Sally Parkin, Clinical Director for Partnerships and Engagement for the CCGs, said: “This has been a brilliant event - very positive but also very realistic. People have been very honest in speaking about the problems that we have in our system but it has been helpful and optimistic about what needs to happen to make things right. It has been a privilege to work with Saltbox and OPEN and working in partnership is a really good way to ensure that we are sharing this valuable intelligence."

Saltbox CEO Lloyd Cooke, who chaired the event, said: "It’s no exaggeration to say this has been a ground breaking event for us. It’s the first OPEN forum that’s been delivered in partnership with another organisation and because OPEN is specifically focused on Stoke-on-Trent it was particularly interesting for us to be able to invite the views of those people living in North Staffordshire. It’s always encouraging for me to see so many people who are prepared to give up their time to share personal insights and views in order to improve the services provided for them."

Picking up on this theme, Saltbox Operations Director Laurie Scott said: "The crucial thing with these events is that action is taken as a result – it’s really important that people’s views are not just heard but also acted upon. The next stage is that representatives of the OPEN Committee and Patients’ Congress will meet to review the findings and make a series of recommendations to NHS decision makers and the OPEN team will continuously review progress against those recommendations and keep members of the public informed via our newsletters and blogs."

Patients are also being encouraged to play their part in making healthcare decisions by joining OPEN,  their GP surgery patient participation group (PPG) or membership scheme, the patient congress at their local CCG, or by joining the North Staffordshire Citizens' Jury, which is currently investigating mental health provision. For more information visit the website.

Members of the public can also make their views heard by contacting their local Patient Advice and Liaison Service at

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Dear Saltbox. Thank you for all you do in the city. Thank you for your faithfulness to your call. We pray God will keep increasing your influence in society.