How can student nurses get involved with Care Opinion?

Question from Care Opinion

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picture of James Munro

We're publishing this blog post in support of the WeStudentNurses tweetchat on "wider patient engagement" on 25 September 2019 at 8pm.

There is also a podcast available, by Joy O'Gorman and Leanne Patrick.

At Plymouth University, student nurses and midwives learn about Care Opinion in the first few weeks of their course, and are encouraged to make use of it throughout their time at the university. And as part of their “wider patient engagement” activity, students can choose to get more actively involved with Care Opinion.

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Here are a few ideas about how you could get further involved, whether you are a student at Plymouth or elsewhere (and indeed, whichever health/care professional tribe you are planning to join).

Start with exploring

A good way to get going is to explore at careopinion.org.uk. Plenty of stories to read! Are there stories about services you or a family member have used or worked in?

If you have an interest in a particular condition, enter it in the search box. What are people posting about – and are they receiving replies from staff? Do the replies seem helpful?

You might have a story of your own to share, whether about you or someone you care about. Post it if you feel able to. Posting a story is a good way to learn not just how Care Opinion works, but also how it feels to give feedback online. You might find it involves a lot of complicated emotions.

And you might also learn how it feels to receive a response (or not receive one).

If your university subscribes, explore further

Right now, only Plymouth and Sheffield Hallam University have subscriptions covering all their healthcare students. If you are at one of these universities, you’ll be able to log in and access more features, like advanced search, alerts, reports and data visualisations. Plenty to try out!

Even if you don’t have a subscription, there’s plenty to learn from the blog: reflections from staff on the importance of patient feedback, reports from students using Care Opinion, technical tips, links to research studies, videos, even the odd podcast.

Are your local health services using Care Opinion?

Are your local health/care organisations using online feedback effectively? Some healthcare providers have plenty of staff listening, while others have only one or two. Some are responding to all their posts, while others hardly respond at all. And while some post helpful, constructive and personal responses, others reply in a very generic way, hardly saying anything.

You might be able to make a difference here. For example, perhaps you could find out whether staff on your clinical placements know about Care Opinion. Have they seen the feedback posted about their service? Have they been able to respond to it (and would they like to)?

Making the most of these “gifts” of feedback

You might find staff feel quite negative about online feedback, for various reasons. That’s quite common. Again, this is where you could make a difference.

The stories people share are full of opportunities for learning and improvement. And half to two-thirds of stories are actually very positive, thanking and encouraging staff. Many teams we work with tell us that using Care Opinion has lifted their morale.

How could you help the teams you work with make the most of what patients are telling them? It would be great to hear about anything you do with Care Opinion – tell us on Twitter!

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

James , This is  a great blog. I'm going to steer staff and volunteers to the CO blog at our next staff/volunteer feedback drop-in help and advice session. There's so many ways we can learn from each other by sharing experiences here.

Even after using CO for almost 11 years at Notts Healthcare, we can't rest on our laurels! I'm still inspired by Care Opinion as a place to show how powerful stories can be whether they are positive or negative. Stories show us how we are perceived as a Trust. Do we listen, do we help or do we makes thing worse?  

Plymouth University, student nurses and midwives learning about Care Opinion are definitely at an advanatge.  I'd love to see this happen in our locality too.


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