10 Years of Care Opinion Thoughts from a Communications Perspective Part 2

Update from Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Julie GrantWe first started talking to Patient Opinion (as it was then called) in 2008. The company offered a relatively new service which gave patients and service users the opportunity to comment on the services they had received, with the Trust having the right to respond.

As Head of Communications I had initial doubts – given the opportunity people usually only comment in a negative way – were we going to encourage negative and destructive comments about our services to be aired for all to see? Part of my team’s job is to protect the reputation of the Trust – how was this going to work?

It helped to convince me that this was a more positive development because I was involved in the decision from the start. It also helped that the PO Team was so open and friendly. They worked with us to develop protocols and structures that would enable us to start small and grow feedback in a manageable way – and that’s what we did!

To begin with only three of us, myself and two colleagues from Involvement, had responder rights. I was then (and still am) a bit of a control freak and wanted to make sure that the responses had the right tone. Once we started though I quickly grasped that rather than postings being negative and worrying they were in fact mostly uplifting and revealed a hard working staff group who were delivering great services to really vulnerable people.

Of course, we did get some negative or worrying postings, but it soon became clear that these offered us a chance to say sorry and make things better in a very open and transparent way, which has to be a good thing.

Ten years later – with a change of name to Care Opinion, reflecting the wider system working now, we have to date 498 staff responding to postings and 842 listening. What is most notable is that out of almost 6000 postings we have had during those ten years 296 of our stories have led to changes, something that could not have happened without using Care Opinion. I’m only pulled in now to help with a response when we have something very sensitive or worrying. But I still read the postings when I can and they still offer a mix of mainly good, but occasionally challenging points being made.

Mental health has always had a good reputation for welcoming feedback and working with service users, as they tend to be in contact with us for longer periods of time, but Care Opinion has allowed us to take this to a new level. We now work with patients, carers, service users and advocates across the Trust, which incorporates high secure and community services, prisons and everything in between.

I’m convinced that using Care Opinion over the last ten years has allowed us to be open and transparent in a really progressive way.

It’s something that marks us out as an organisation and it’s something I’m really proud of. We’re looking forward to celebrating this really productive relationship in style!

Julie Grant

Head of Communication

Read part one written in 2016 


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