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Experiences of an Enter & View Volunteer

I first became aware of the Enter and View programme when I signed up to be a member of Healthwatch Brent some time ago. Having always had an interest in Health and Social Care, I previously volunteered for Community Health Councils which provided a voice for patients and the public in the NHS across England and Wales. Much to everybody’s dismay, in 2003, the Community Health Councils were abolished in England.

With the rapid rise of the elderly population and increased awareness of dementia, I saw the need for visits to providers of services to the vulnerable as something I wanted to contribute to. As Healthwatch Brent focuses on championing local services, prioritising hospitals, care homes and adult mental health services, volunteering as part of the Enter and View programme was the perfect opportunity to pursue this.

As part of our training, all volunteers take part in a series of sessions on the code of conduct, equality and diversity, as well as safeguarding. DBS checks were, of course, a natural and necessary requirement.

Having joined the Enter and View team when it was first launched in Brent, volunteers and Healthwatch Brent staff developed as a team; treating each others judgement with respect as we progressed in our work.

As part of our pre visit briefing, we read the most recent inspection reports published by the CQC together, as well as disusing general information about t the home.

During the visits, it’s important for us to make residents, family and friends as well as staff feel comfortable in our presence, so that they feel able to open up about their experience within the home. I have also enjoyed having a friendly chat to residents who are often a little lonely.

Post-inspection, the team all have lunch together and discuss our findings. These are then written in a report, and signed off by all of the team (as well as the care home should they wish to comment on our findings), before being published.

As volunteers, we all hope that our efforts taking part in these visits will make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of the vulnerable in our society.

Helga Gladbaum