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Love your senses – project to look at how well health and care services respond to the needs of people with sensory impairments

Tomorrow (20th October), the first of five focus groups will kick off the latest project from Healthwatch Essex, which is looking to understand the challenges people with sensory impairments face when trying to access health and care services in the county.

Healthwatch Essex is an independent voice for the people of Essex about health and care services. It works hard to capture the ‘lived experience’ of people who use services in order to highlight to the providers of those services what they do well and where there is room for improvement.

The latest project is inviting people who have a hearing and/or sight impairment to get involved in focus groups over the coming month, with an event and report planned for Valentine’s Day next year to tie in with the ‘love your senses’ theme.

“We’re using our tried and tested ‘555 model’, which involves holding five focus groups, which lead on to an event where five of the participants spend five minutes telling their story to the people who design and deliver health and care services,” said Dr Tom Nutt, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex.

“This way of engaging and feeding back has worked very well for us in the past. It really does manage to harness both the power of lived experience and provide the opportunity for those with that experience to make a face-to-face impact with people who can really make a difference by implementing changes.”

Those taking part in the focus groups will be asked to share their experiences of any kind of health and care service, detailing how easy the services were to access in the first place and then outlining what it was like to then use those services.

The sorts of health and care services could include anything from GP’s and dentists, to hospitals and specialist units. The work will also engage with people to understand their experiences of using personal budgets.

Healthwatch is working closely with a number of specialist partners, namely ECL Sensory Service, Royal Association for Deaf People, Support 4 Sight, Hearing Help Essex, and Essex Sight, in order to gain access to people who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, Deaf or deafblind.

While tomorrow’s focus group is already full, there are others planned for 2nd November, 8th November and 22nd November, with another date to be added soon. Places are restricted, so booking is essential, but if you are interested in being involved do please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. from the Engagement Team at on 01376 572829.

Further information is also available on our website.