Why do I post on Care Opinion?

Question from Care Opinion

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About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

We are grateful to A Catherine Wheel, who has posted a number of stories on Care Opinion, for contributing this post to our blog.

Catherine Wheel

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:

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!

Response from Gina Alexander, Director, Care Opinion Scotland, Care Opinion on

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


Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team, Involvement, Experience and Volunteering Team, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust on

Hello again!

I echo Gina's words. What a great blog! Your posts as always provide us with food for thought. You are insightful, candid plus I love the cheeky bits!

Like Gina, it will be shared far and wide and particularly at our forthcoming events celebrating Care Opinion and 10 years of online feedback at Nottshc April 2019

I found it interesting reading that you feel Involvement is 'incorporated'. We want to make sure that every voice is really valued and listened to. It's not just about representation, so in that spirit I would love the opportunity to share more about the nuts and bolts of involvement and how it works with you?

We are learning so much from you and with this in mind we need a closer look at how we can make the Involvement message clearer that we do listen to every single voice (however quiet).

I’m glad you feel Care Opinion is supportive and kind. They are a lovely team and they help us to improve too. I wish more people would share their stories online as you have proved that you make a difference. Changes really can and do happen.

Keep your posts coming!

Thank you

Best Wishes


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