Sixth formers gained a ground-breaking insight into how patients are cared for by the NHS and other social care organisations in Cheshire West.
Year 12 students interviewed patients about their experiences and then reported back to care watchdog Healthwatch who monitor the quality of the care being provided.
It is believed to be the first time Healthwatch has allowed youngsters below the age of 18 to become their eyes and ears as authorised representatives in places such as the Countess of Chester hospital, elderly care homes and other patient care environments.
The scheme involved a major investment in training and support for our volunteers by Healthwatch Cheshire West organisers, with girls receiving four weeks of training in interviewing, report writing and other skills.
Organisers say that this has been fully justified by the excellence of the work produced.
“We knew we wanted to get more young people involved in our work and specifically in Enter and View and this, we believe, is the first time any regional Healthwatch has tried such as scheme,” said Dave Crosthwaite, Healthwatch Cheshire West volunteer co-ordinator.
“The girls were excellent throughout and conducted their visits to a wide range of organisations, so we are really pleased with what they achieved with patients.”
One of the volunteers Caitlin Lewis, who hopes to go to study medicine, said: “On one of our visits we approached a man who had just undergone treatment and who had two family members at his bedside.
“He simply said that the care he had received was amazing as that they had literally saved his life. Hearing that was something we will never forget.”
The 10 week placements were part of the Queen’s QUEST enrichment programme which offers girls volunteering and other extra-curricular and community involvement projects to complement their academic studies.
“This has been a first for everyone involved and we very much hope to keep up the connection with Queen’s for the future.” Dave added.