Getting started with Care Opinion in our neurological rehabilitation centre

Update from Royal Free Neurological Rehabilitation Centre

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This blog is authored by Niamh Maguire, Laura Williams, Evelyn Mudhumbo, Magda Staszewska, Rakhee Prema

We are a team of therapists providing a community neurological rehabilitation service in North London. We applied to use Care Opinion as part of a 6-month pilot offered by UCL Partners, and we’ve been using it now for just over four months.

How we got started

We found it very easy to get going – the focus on learning and improvement was an immediate fit for our team. We began by showing Care Opinion to our colleagues, who understood it right away. They immediately became interested in the feedback already there, and wanted to get involved. We shared out logins widely across our team, so everyone could set up their own email alerts and start thinking about responding.

Our Care Opinion banner

We created a banner and put this up in reception. We also created promotional material that we felt would suit our patients and started asking people directly to give us feedback using Care Opinion. It was easy to ask, not awkward at all, and it seems to have been very easy for people to share their feedback. Some people have gone online, and others have phoned in their feedback. Nobody seems to have found it difficult so far.

We also set up an iPad on site with Care Opinion in “kiosk mode” which has been really good.

We decided to have no hierarchy in responding, so it isn’t confined to team leaders. Usually we do the responding in pairs, so that people can learn and gain confidence from one another. If a member of staff is mentioned in the story we try to get that person involved when we are responding: it feels more personal that way.

How we are progressing

The initial reaction from our therapists has been very positive. There’s quite a buzz in the team about the feedback coming in from our patients. It feels “instant” – there’s no delay like the Friends and Family Test, and we love the ability to go back to the patient and say “what can we do to improve this?”

Now more therapists are getting involved in reading the feedback, and it’s also great for new staff joining the team to see how our patients feel and what they value.

It seems to make the team feel closer to our patients and what they need from our service

It isn’t a great deal of work. If anything we have reduced our workload, because we’re not sending out surveys to our patients any more – and we’re not missing them! Our survey questions had little value and we weren’t able to do much with the responses. We didn’t find our surveys or FFT responses very helpful when it came to making our services better. Our team definitely relates much more to the stories people are sending us, which are rich with detail.

What we are learning

Most of the feedback so far has been positive. We recently introduced a weekly coffee morning for patients and we weren’t sure what people thought of it. But we’ve had some great feedback about it and it’s been fantastic to hear how much of a difference it is making. Without this we wouldn’t have realised what it meant to people.

It’s brilliant to hear from people so directly. It seems to make the team feel closer to our patients and what they need from our service. People are saying things in their own way, and our staff have found it very powerful to hear that they are doing a good job. That matters so much when services are under pressure.

How we are feeling now

Now we are getting used to it, we would like to see more stories about how we can improve our service. We want our patients to feel like they have a say and can influence the service they receive and Care Opinion is a great way to get this feedback. People seem reluctant to criticise and we would like to encourage honest feedback when it is required. We’re not sure how much our patients are looking at the feedback from other patients, so we’d like to find out and promote this further.

We’ve added a sticker on our letters to patients, to remind them to give us feedback on Care Opinion. And we remind our therapists to ask too.

Because our rehabilitation service isn’t on the main site for our trust, we’ve been a little bit “under the radar” in the past. Using Care Opinion has made us much more visible to senior people in the trust. There’s been a lot of interest in this project from other teams too.

Now we need to put together a business case so we can continue beyond the original 6 month period supported by UCL Partners. We would like to use Care Opinion across our whole service, including our inpatient rehabilitation unit, and use patient stories to support future quality improvement projects.

Overall, we’ve really enjoyed having Care Opinion available to us: it’s been a good match for our service and our culture. Our team has enjoyed it, been motivated and involved, and learned plenty. It’s been very rewarding.

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