As a volunteer for Healthwatch, Rose goes out and speaks to local people to find out what they think about health and care services.
She has also received training to go out and visit hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes to formally observe how services are delivered. She sometimes mystery shops services as well.
Healthwatch mystery shoppers pose as service users, and either phone or visit health and care providers to see whether they are given good information and good customer service.
A lot of the time people don't have the information they need to access services
'I remember going to the Drovers Day Centre and speaking to a man who'd been going to his doctors for years saying he couldn't walk because of his toes. His nails needed cutting. He needed to access the podiatry service and for whatever reason he'd not received any help. No one had told him he could self-refer. He’d cut the top of his shoe away and his nails were poking out, and that was in the winter.
'At Healthwatch we help to give people the information they need. Not everyone is computer literate or has access to a computer. Sometimes you need to meet people face to face, especially the older generation that didn't grow up with technology. And also if you're getting older, you're getting tired, there's a limit to how much information you can look at. We've got to reach people in different ways. Healthwatch volunteers can play a big part in that.'
We can do lots of things to see how health and care services are doing and then let commissioners know.
'We can do mystery shopping, we can go out and chat to people about their experiences, we can do surveys. I went to a dental practice with a Healthwatch survey and met an elderly lady who didn’t realise she didn’t have to pay for her basic dental treatment because she was a pensioner. She was still being charged and that wasn't right.
'In those kind of cases we’re able to say to Islington Council or Islington Clinical Commissioning Group, whoever is responsible for any particular service, this is what that service is like. If people are having a bad experience, then we can let them know. Then the commissioners can write to that service to discuss the issues or problems.'