Finding my voice

Update from Care Opinion

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picture of Andrew Cassidy

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

  • Epictetus (50 – 135AD)


Around ten weeks ago, I received the phone call I had been waiting and hoping for. It was a call from Gina in the Scottish Care Opinion team, and she had called to offer me a position I had applied for.

I have to say, I was very excited. I don’t think I did an especially good job of concealing the fact either when Gina called. I’m sure she heard my punching the air over the phone.

After a short celebration (there may have been a bottle of something nice and a nice meal), I started preparing for my new job. I read up on and memorised the 14 geographical boards and 7 special boards that make up NHS Scotland. I read the Duty of Candour policy and parts of the 2012 Patients’ Rights Act.

I spent literally hours on the Care Opinion website, reading story after story, and becoming absorbed in the feedback that people had chosen to share with us. I spent time poring over the stories, trying to put myself in the place of the author, imagining what they would like to happen as a result of their sharing their story. Then I’d try to put myself in the shoes of the team involved in the story, and asked myself what they could learn, how they must feel when they receive praise or thanks from a stranger for a job well done, and how they could act on more critical feedback on those occasions where things could have gone better.

A large part of my role would be communication, so I tried to ‘find’ my voice. I tried to master the tone I would use when I was posting on behalf of Care Opinion on social media, or when I was out speaking about Care Opinion. And I struggled. I read Edward Bernays, and I struggled some more. I asked my partner for her take on it, and I struggled some more.

I read, revised, rehashed, and recycled, and then was struck by a revelation. This job is never going to be about my voice. In many ways, working in communications for Care Opinion should be the easiest job in the world, because I already have a voice. Actually, I had closer to 11,000 voices. 11,000 voices, belonging to people who had already shared their story with us in Scotland. 11,000 voices saying, “Well done,” or, “Thank you,” or, “Maybe it would be better if…”

And with 11,000 voices speaking about Care Opinion already in Scotland, all I had to do was listen and try to help make those voices heard.

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