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Making Aids and Equipment Services Work Better for People in North Yorkshire

Healthwatch North Yorkshire

Working closely with Healthwatch North Yorkshire, Medequip has completed an ambitious co-production project designed to secure accurate and in-depth feedback from people across the county who access and use their community equipment services.

A detailed survey developed and delivered by the two organisations has been carried out to explore various aspects of Medequip’s service, from the delivery of equipment through to communications, repairs and collections. The key objective was to identify areas for improvement and create a detailed Action Plan devised to ensure suggestions and contributions were listened to and acted upon.

Early in 2023, Healthwatch North Yorkshire were commissioned by Medequip to create the survey, which was then shared with a sample of 4,500 people who had recent experience of using Medequip services. The survey was produced in a range of formats to ensure it was accessible for all.

Using an independent body to gather information was deemed to be the best approach for this project, underlining Medequip’s commitment to improving the service at all levels. The objective was to achieve an accurate insight into the lived experiences of people using Medequip services, utilising this feedback to implement improvements. All information was fed back to the local commissioners and resulted in the compilation of a comprehensive Action Plan.

The survey yielded a wealth of positive responses, with most respondents stating that the equipment helped them to be more independent and feel safer. Some expressed clearly how essential their equipment is and how difficult life would be without it; one respondent said without the use of their equipment their quality of life and ability to function independently at a reasonable level would be very low.

Most respondents (78%) said their equipment is appropriate for their needs, as it was chosen or recommended by an occupational therapist, physiotherapist or nurse after an assessment. Many people said their equipment helps to provide them with privacy, independence and dignity.

The most Important aspect of the survey, however, was to identify areas for improvement, and from the feedback and insight gathered, Medequip and Healthwatch have identified six areas where aspects of the service could be improved to better meet the needs of the people of North Yorkshire.

These areas included improvements to overall suitability of the equipment to match individual needs; general communications; delivery, installation, maintenance of repair of items; quality and condition of the equipment supplied; information provided about the use and application of the equipment and finally how to return equipment when it is no longer required.

The resulting Action Plan is extensive, covering a total of 17 important improvements. One example is plans for the company’s customer services team to spend time with clinicians to understand their impact on the service and how they can communicate more effectively, improving empathy, respect and trust. In terms of equipment delivery, Medequip’s IT department is tasked with improving the accuracy of the text messaging system that keeps customers updated on scheduled equipment delivery times.

To encourage and simplify the return of equipment, meetings with Commissioners have been scheduled to review collection speeds. In addition, leaflets are being supplied to clinical leads to support increased understanding of the returns cycle, as well as implementing improved liaison with third sector organisations and media campaigns to support understanding.

“This project has been a powerful learning curve in helping us to engage with people with lived experience of our services,” stated Alex Roberts, Retail and Engagement Manager for Medequip. “Plans are already in place to replicate the survey in other Medequip contract areas, working with local Healthwatch organisations, to identify and implement areas for improvement.”

Commenting for Healthwatch North Yorkshire, Ashley Green said, “As a people’s health and social care champion, it is important to include people directly in conversations that involve their care. We welcomed the opportunity to work with Medequip and the strides to make things better for people – now and in the future.”

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