We are grateful to A Catherine Wheel, who has posted a number of stories on Care Opinion, for contributing this post to our blog.
I’m A Catherine Wheel, a user of local mental health services in the City East bit of Nottingham.
Why do I post on Care Opinion?
First, to share my thoughts about mental health issues and policies that specifically affect the services I access - for example the Recovery model.
Second, to comment about a particular service I have used, like the Stonebridge Centre or the Recovery College, or to ask whether a service we don’t have might be created, such as one for coming off anti-depressants.
Third, because it’s often difficult to discuss opinions with a practitioner. There are issues of time, appropriateness, and it can put a practitioner on the spot, which might distract in a helping relationship.
Fourth, the anonymity affords me safety. I don’t fear any comeback if my ideas don’t fit with a practitioner’s/manager’s ideas. Care Opinion is a supportive, kind platform. Its etiquette and guidelines make for a positive experience.
I have found that local services managers, practitioners, and others do take notice of my posts. I can comment on anything I want to, when I like. I can ask my questions, make my suggestions, and receive specific information back through replies to my posts.
I want to be part of the solution, not simply part of the problem
My voice is not “incorporated” as it would be in an Involvement Team. What do I mean by incorporated? In my local trust, the Involvement Teams only look at issues they have on their calendar – so if I joined them and wanted to look at something I think is important, unless it’s on the list I can’t.
For research and inspections for example the Involvement Team is given the questions to ask, the things to look for, so you can’t ask your own questions, or look with your eyes.
What has posting meant to me?
Posting on Care Opinion has helped me to develop my voice. I want to do something to make a difference. I want to be part of the solution, not simply part of the problem. Care Opinion is the perfect platform for me. I am developing my style, through a mix of cheeky, funny posts and serious posts. I’m getting a feel for speaking out in this safe space.
Nowhere else provides this opportunity for me to grow as an engaged person, and develop my “making a difference” skills.
I’m a creative person, and I’m having a lot of fun doing those cheekier posts. Who says that speaking out can’t be about creativity, having a laugh, and yes, laughing at myself too?
What difference have my posts made?
I didn’t succeed in getting a “coming off” service for people wanting to come off medication. Instead, I received individual help. But I have achieved change with other posts:
Having wi-fi access in public/shared places is being looked into.
Voice Box, a group for voice hearers, is now on a firmer footing, and unlikely to be cut.
My overview post was read by a service manager who says I’ve provided lots to think about.
My message to staff
Feedback is about making the services more effective and relevant. We are all after the same thing!
My message to other service users
We are stronger together. Give it a go. Get a result. Feel proud you’ve posted.
Care Opinion? Bring it on!
Why do I post on Care Opinion?Why do I post on Care Opinion? https://www.careopinion.org.uk/resources/blog-resources/1-images/491af8d73ae847be82cce6631c137afd.jpg Care Opinion 0114 281 6256 https://www.careopinion.org.uk https://www.careopinion.org.uk/content/UK/1/images/logos/po_header_logo.png
Question from Care Opinion
Posted by Care Opinion, on
Response from Gina Alexander, Director, Care Opinion Scotland, Care Opinion on 26 Mar 2019 at 16:59
Hello A Catherine Wheel,
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your blog. Of course, we hear about people's experiences of health and care every day but it was fascinating to hear about your motivation and experience of using Care Opinion - it would be great to hear more about that.
Your blog will be my new fave thing to share.
Personally I would like to see lots more stories about mental health services in Scotland and your blog will help to encourage people to share, I hope.
I could be wrong, but I also think mental health services are anxious about encouraging people to share their stories on Care Opinion, wondering what they'll get and if they will be able to cope. I think your blog could also be reassuring and helpful to them.
Win, win, win - the best combination!
Thanks A Catherine Wheel and all the best