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Feedback via Care Opinion: a dainty dish to set before the Trust

Update 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 sharing with us her speech to the Leadership Council at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS FT in April 2019.

You can listen to her speech via SoundCloud (embedded here), or read the transcript below.

I think that giving feedback via Care Opinion is a dainty dish to set before the Trust

About a year ago, some mouse, along with Mr Google and the Algorithms, abandoned me on a website called Care Opinion. It was well-intentioned as I was having a dire time trying to come off anti-depressants. I was desperate. I kept pleading with myself: “Is there anybody there?”  Eventually someone inside me answered: “There’s nobody here”…

I posted on Care Opinion asking if the Trust could provide a coming off service for people wanting to try living anti-depressant free. I reached out to you, longingly.

It was a lie of course, that: “There’s nobody here”. You are here. A Services Manager on reading my post replied immediately and fixed me up with help to come off Seroxat and conveyed her dismay at my dire experience. She had been positive, sensitive, caring. She had listened. More than that, she had done something. No one else had.

I didn’t get the coming-off service for everyone, but I did feel heartened by this reply.  I’ve now posted 6 times about our services. My posts have had 1,274 readings on Care Opinion and 7.6% of these readings are by staff here. I’ve had 10 responses from the staff and 1 change has been made.

Why do I bother?

Feedback is a way to tell you how the services I have, help me, hinder me, fill me with despair, and make me sing along with Abba.

I told you about VoiceBox, a group for voice hearers, and how it enables us to have decent lives by learning how to manage our voices, and that this is a valued and essential group. You read my post and have secured the future of VoiceBox. Would that be so if you hadn’t heard from me? One change was made.

I invited you to re-see your blanket polices (locked doors), your practices and procedures, co-production and staff training, by telling you about the Stonebridge Centre in the cheekiest post ever to hit Care Opinion. I gave you a jolt. Turned the Stonebridge Centre on its head. Made it the most welcoming, accessible, lively and reflective hub going. A centre for information, communication, skills sharing, activity, creativity, telly watching. With free refreshments and lovely receptionists. I unlocked all the doors, addressed imbalances of power, entitlement, and highlighted fabric and spirit of place. I hope you considered how your approaches impact on people who access these services.

Why feedback through Care Opinion though?

Anonymity makes feedback a less scary and risky thing to do. I can’t help worrying about life’s what ifs… what if they take my services away if I speak out? If they’re horrible to me afterwards? If they see my anger as poor mental health, rather than being quite frankly fed up with your service?

Posting here takes feedback out of the helping relationship and stops it from being seen as biting the hand reaching out to us. Care Opinion is a step removed. We share with you, the providers, instead. No one takes it personally or feels misunderstood.

We want the same thing really - services that are timely, relevant, the best.

I want to engage with the structures, systems, and organisations that shape our lives.  On Care Opinion I communicate with the people behind the scenes. I know that here, the people behind this system realise that some people can be broken people, can be hurting, can be speaking as I was on my first post, from a desperate place. I am safe.

We can share our vision here. We invite each other to re-see these systems, organisations, and structures, as means to serve our shared purposes. We want the same thing really - services that are timely, relevant, the best.

There’s something just for me too. I want to help shape a world that works for all of us. And Care Opinion is a step on my way. I’m developing my voice with you (funny, cheeky, serious), and acquiring making-a-difference skills. Care Opinion is the kindest, most supportive space I’ve come across to have a fledging go at speaking out on things that affect me and other people.

There’s three things I’d like you to do to help with feedback

Please respond to feedback. I’ll know you’ve listened. Done something. Made changes. I feel an equal person with you as you let my opinions stand with yours, and accept and respect my sharing. Your information and signposting, further my ideas, and open up ways to live my life.

Will you help Mr Google and the Algorithms, and give a mouse a break? Publicise Care Opinion -  everywhere, all the time. Posters, flyers, cards, word of mouth. We can’t hold a conversation if we don’t know where to meet. Care Opinion is visibly absent in our Trust. You could sell off all those door locks to fund this.

When you get feedback please remember that some of us put our trust in the Trust to have our decent lives.

What I like most about giving feedback is that we become part of one another.  Touch each other’s lives.  What more is there, than to share and give to each other,  to make birds sing?

Feedback is indeed a dainty dish to set before the Trust.

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Response from Julie Grant, Head of Communications, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust on

Hello A Catherine Wheel

I was not able to attend the LC where you presented but I have always enjoyed reading your postings. You make serious comments about important services but there is always time for a sense of humour and a reflective comment. Keep posting and keep helping us to improve and make changes. It's so important! Well done and keep going!


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