Take one Care Opinion story a day

Update from Quality Improvement

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About: NHS Borders

This week's quality improvement blog post is from Ros Gray, Head of Quality & Clinical Governance, NHS Borders

In NHS Borders we have been working with the Care Opinion team to increase the number of stories our patients share and the number of staff ready to respond to those stories.

Take one a day

We believe that using Care Opinion to generate feedback is a fundamental foundation stone of our aim to communicate effectively with all our patients and families, one of our top 5 improvement aims. Reading the stories is a tonic in itself. It reminds me how privileged we are to be involved in people’s lives when they may be at their most vulnerable.

A couple of years ago a friend asked me to write a blog for their website – I've included an extract below. It makes me think: if only Care Opinion had been around then.


26 years ago about now, I walked into a busy medical ward and saw Veronica, a 60-year-old woman, in the last stages of her battle with lung cancer, sitting in a chair barely conscious. I called the nurse and asked if Veronica could be put back to bed and given some analgesia to make her comfortable.

The nurse said that wouldn’t be possible because Veronica’s chart was in the pharmacy department.

To cut a long story short, I went to the pharmacy department and retrieved the chart. The nurse, after much huffing and puffing, gave Veronica her diamorphine. She was put back to bed and I sat with her, holding her hand to comfort her, until she dozed.

Did that need saying?

After about an hour Veronica passed away, very painlessly and with great dignity. I went to inform that nurse whose immediate response was: “That’ll be the diamorphine”.

Of course she was probably right, but did that need saying? And was this a ward that was designed to deliver safe, effective, and person-centred care?

Was there a culture that anticipated the needs of the patients and their families and wanted to deliver care in a way that would make both the patients and the staff feel good? Or was this a ward with systems designed to deliver the exact opposite?


So, what if Care Opinion had been around then? Would I have shared Veronica’s story? Would I have been encouraged to do so, for the good and the bad?

Might that story have helped the ward to ensure that all care delivered was effective and efficient and both patients and staff had a great experience? Would it have prompted the need for change? I suspect the answer to those questions would be yes.

Perhaps we can use the introduction of Care Opinion as an improvement approach

Looking around the world, at the great work on patient safety and person-centred care, perhaps we can use the introduction of Care Opinion as an improvement approach to spell out exactly what it is we want to achieve, and how we will know that changes we make result in improvement for our patients and staff?

Inviting the users of our services to share their stories on Care Opinion does not happen without effort. Putting up a few signs, dotting a few cards about, leaving the responses to an individual or team distanced from the point of service, is really not what it’s about.

I think that developing processes that entice our staff to engage with service users in different ways along their journey, inviting them to share their stories as they go, will make a huge impact on the experience for patients, families and staff alike.

People that take the time to share their stories don’t want the likes of me – the Quality Manager – responding to them. They are sending heartfelt testimonies about the care they have received to the team they received it from. Be brave and respond right back to your patient yourself – easy when the story is positive and complimentary, harder when it isn’t, but so much more meaningful and more likely to lead to real and sustainable change.

To set you and your team up for that, here’s my prescription: “Take one Care Opinion story a day – repeat as necessary.” I guarantee it will remind you of all that is good with health and social care and bolster your resilience when the going gets tough!

That very special time I spent with Veronica all those years ago probably influenced my career choice to try to make things better for our patients in this way.

It is an immense privilege to play a part in our patients’ lives (and deaths) and the impact we have on them and their families can be profound and last a lifetime for them. For us it may be just another day.

The words of that nurse have certainly lived with me all these years. Veronica was my mum.

Veronica, my mum

Response from Lezl on

Such a powerful message, and what an opportunity for staff to learn from their patients and relatives

This blog post is closed to responses.

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