WESTMARC - making the most of Care Opinion

Update from Care Opinion Scotland

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About: WestMARC (West of Scotland Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre)

picture of Gina Alexander

We are always fascinated by the way services and teams make the most of Care Opinion. In this blog Heather Richardson, Operational Services Manager, tells us about the WESTMARC journey.

What is WESTMARC and what do you do?

The West of Scotland Mobility and Rehabilitation Centre (WestMARC) is a service that covers 6 NHS Scottish health boards serving a population of approximately 2.6 million, with in excess of 42,000 active wheelchair and 3,500 prosthetics users. We support our population by providing services in 3 main centres: WestMARC based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow; a local centre in Motherwell; and a repair facility at our WestMARC Yoker base. In addition we have satellite clinics in a number of hospitals. We also support our wheelchair users within their homes, schools and work providing repairs undertaken by a fleet of mobile engineers from Oban to Dumfries.

Why (and when) did your team start using Care Opinion?

Historically the wheelchair service issued a Wheelchair User Survey every 2 years to get feedback on how well the service ran in terms of education on how to use the equipment, friendliness of the clinical and technical teams etc.

The feedback from this survey gave the service and understanding of where to focus improvement efforts and let team know what was working well. Often feedback was overwhelmingly positive, which was good, but we wanted to learn more about what we could do better to improve the overall experience within WestMARC.

In December 2016 the WestMARC team made a decision that they would use Care Opinion to gather anonymous feedback with more frequency, to complement other ways we receive feedback such as complaints and compliments. The implementation date of 1st April 2017 was agreed.

What do you do to encourage people to use Care Opinion?

Over the months leading up to and after April 2017, we gauged the teams' views on how and when we could promote Care Opinion to our service users/ carers/ parent/ guardians and other health professionals to gather as much and as varied feedback as we could. We were provided with lots of tools from the Care Opinion team and one of the things that we loved and we embraced was a small card asking ‘how was your care?’ We sent them out with letters, incorporated them into our clinical and reception spaces and gave them to our mobile engineers to hand out on completion of repairs.

What has been the impact for staff? How have they reacted?

On initially discussing with the teams, they were apprehensive about asking for feedback so we have tried to find ways in which we encourage users of all our services to log on to Care Opinion or phone, and we aim to do this with the majority of our interactions. We are still working on this!

When staff see / read the impact they have had and they see it in written form it is amazing to watch. Our aim is to ensure that Care Opinion is a standing agenda item at all of the team meetings, so that they can see how positive the stories are about the service. We discuss them at all of our senior team meetings to ensure that any areas for improvement we are reviewing/ costing and considering for implementation.

I am so proud to say that as much as we forget sometimes to give a card or refer to the website, that it is now a fundamental way of getting real-time feedback and having ongoing conversations with service users about their experiences.

We have learned so much about the fabric of our buildings, the kindness of our teams - so much so we awarded one of our mobile engineers 'the most name checked WestMARC team member'.

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What has been the impact for people who use your services?

Importantly we make sure that opinions turn into actions. We have:-

  • changed our phone number following feedback posted on Care Opinion
  • decorated our reception area to make it more inviting
  • and we are currently in the process of trying out new sensor bins following the most recent feedback from someone who uses a powered wheelchair who posted that they cannot use pedal bins – when we read this it seemed really obvious but it take just one person to help us make the place more accessible for all our visitors.

What’s next for WESTMARC?

As a service we are always looking for new ideas. Even a couple of weeks ago I was at a Care Opinion session and saw massive Care Opinion signs on the side of NHS vans (we have 25 vans) which I thought was a fabulous idea. I am always on the look out on how best to promote, increase and improve feedback from our service users to inform how we can make the service more comfortable, informative and ultimately maximise our effectiveness for the people that use WestMARC.

Care Opinion has allowed us to understand the user experiences at a much richer level than we could have hoped. We have enjoyed hearing some inspiring stories about our service users and staff. We are committed to continuing on this journey, listening and, crucially, acting on our users' needs to put them truly at the centre of what we do.

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