A mother believes a new health watchdog will help families like her own fight for better services and get the support they need.
Jacqui Darlington is backing the new Healthwatch Rutland scheme, which was formally approved by the county council last week.
Jacqui moved to Rutland from Oldham with her sons Joshua and Ashley in 2006.
Joshua, now 21, has Down’s syndrome and autism. In Oldham he was given two pairs of orthopedic shoes every year. But when the family moved to Rutland they found it difficult to get the shoes Joshua needed.
Jacqui, who lives in Northgate, Oakham, said: “We eventually used the GP referral, although we had to wait. We couldn’t go straight to an orthotics appointment. We had to be referred to an occupational therapist for an assessment. But Joshua obviously needed the shoes.
“We had to argue that he needed them.”
It took 12 months and numerous trip to Leicester to get the right shoes for Joshua. Jacqui complained and got an apology, but she thinks others may not have been so persistent.
She said: “Healthwatch would help because someone else might not have had the strength or courage to fight, or may not have gone forward with their problems.
“Mine is a very small case. Joshua isn’t a complex young man and he doesn’t have complex needs. But what about families with children who need a variety of appointments? How are they coping? What happens to their other children during appointments?
“It is about supporting parents like ourselves to make complaints, to find out why things don’t work, who to go to.
“People need wheelchairs or specialist equipment.”
After her experience Jacqui helped set up Rutland Parent Carer Voice, which offers support to parents and carers across the county alongside the county council.
The organisation helps a limited group of people find the help they need, and also gives advice to health professionals.
Jacqui said: “You want things to be a bit more local. Somewhere that someone else can take up the battle.
“We have to fight from the day our children are born. Joshua is 21 and I am still fighting.
“That’s why I became a part of Rutland Parent Carer Voice. There are so many people who have various needs.
“At the end of it we need to be together to get our voices heard. We are fighting for the best we can get for our children.”
She thinks it is important Healthwatch Rutland exists to highlight problems and positives on a wider scale.
She said: “Having something like that in Rutland will be fantastic. It helps people voice opinions both good and bad. If something is working we need to tell other people about it.”
Healthwatch Rutland members will be onboard Rutland Community Spirit’s First Contact Mobile bus when it visits towns and villages during February and March.
People will be able to raise their concerns or highlight positives, and find out more about the service.
Rutland Community Spirit is a charity that supports vulnerable or isolated people over the age of 60.
Rutland Parent Carer Voice is also holding an awareness session and family day from 10.30am to 4pm on March 15 at Greetham Community Centre.