Using Care Opinion in the Recovery College

Update from South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust

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About: Community mental health services / Recovery College

I manage the Recovery College and Welfare Benefits Team at South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. At the Recovery College we talk to students about using Care Opinion as a way to have their voices heard with regard to how the courses could be better or how they have been beneficial to their recovery. We have had 100 stories to date on Care Opinion.

It was initially a bit of work as we had difficulty navigating the Care Opinion site. One of our trainers then put together an A5 step by step instruction for students to enter comments about the College. We now have these in the College for students if they would like to feedback about the Recovery College.

We talk to students about Care opinion in our multisession courses at the penultimate session as a way for people to tell us how we are doing.

To keep staff engaged at the Recovery College, we remind trainers to talk about the site and how feedback can be beneficial to improving services, or for getting them recognised for the good work they are doing. Staff initially found this to be extra work but they have seen the positivity of getting students to talk about what they found useful in their recovery. The website gives people the opportunity for their voices to be heard and to have an input into how the College works

We have a team in the Trust that responds to all of the stories on Care Opinion. This enables students to see that more senior management is looking at their comments. We respond to any students who have critical feedback via our Trust responders and discuss feedback within our team to see if changes need to be made to courses or behaviour of staff, etc. We very much see the stories as a positive; they give us our students’ perspective.

My advice to other services who are thinking about using Care Opinion is that it is natural to feel anxious about negative comments, but it has been a positive experience for us at the Recovery College. It is important is that senior management use the critical Care Opinion stories as an opportunity to improve the service, not to discipline or make staff feel bad. But by using Care Opinion, we have learnt how skilful our trainers are at what is a complex role managing many factors at the same time.

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