PEOPLE receiving home care and support would like to see the introduction of weekend and evening visits, according to a Healthwatch Somerset report.

The Somerset District Nursing Service (DNS) can be involved with caring for more than 1,000 patients each day in their homes, keeping them in their communities and out of hospital.

As the older population in Somerset grows, so does demand for district nursing and community services.

Healthwatch Somerset and the DNS want to ensure patient and carer feedback is used to influence how the service develops to meet the growing demand for quality care at home.

Healthwatch Somerset gathered feedback about the service from 175 patients, carers and family members, through an online survey and phone interviews.

They asked people to share their views about how the service is currently delivered, about possible changes to service hours, and about the use of digital technology.

Among findings published in the report are:

The DNS service is rated 'very good' by 93.6 per cent of respondents;

  • 79.2 per cent of patients said they could manage a routine visit after 5pm on weekdays, and 91.9% said they could manage a visit at the weekend;
  • Any move to digital appointments would need to be sympathetic to those who are digitally excluded because they have no access to the internet;
  • A time slot system for appointments should be considered;
  • Improvements to continuity of care should be considered for long-term service users and those with cognitive impairment, for example by providing a consistent nurse or group of nurses.

Healthwatch Somerset acting manager Lucie Woodruff said: "As our older population grows, there is greater demand on community services and the 'out of hospital' model of care. This includes district nursing which is highly valued by local people.

"We know that Somerset's NHS and social care commissioners want to develop more joined up health and care services in the community, and we want to make sure that the services provided, now and in the future, meet the needs and expectations of Somerset residents.

"So, we asked people about their views and experiences of the DNS and we have shared our findings and recommendations to guide how the service is developed."

Somerset NHS Foundation Trust neighbourhood service lead Gillian Cook said: "The trust is about to commence a transformation process for the DNS in Somerset and our patients' voice is at the centre of this work.

"This report containing feedback about our DNS from patients and carers across the county will be invaluable as we move through this transformation process, and it will positively influence our future service.

"We want to thank Healthwatch Somerset for carrying out this work; it has been an excellent example of collaborative working that will ultimately inform our future services."