Starting a new role in a changing world

Update from Care Opinion Scotland

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My name is Fraser Gilmore and I am the new Head of Scotland for Care Opinion. In this blog I am going reflect on my first few weeks in my new role, talk about encouraging people to tell their stories in a time of crisis and innovative ideas for our subscribers.

A little bit about me first. I have been working in the voluntary and statutory sectors for over 15 years, working with some of the most vulnerable groups in our society, focused mainly on housing and homelessness. One of my greatest passions in my working life has been elevating the voices of those who are often unheard, making sure their stories were seen by the right people and hopefully affecting positive change for the future. 

When I saw the role come up with Care Opinion, you can imagine I jumped at the chance. A values-based organisation whose entire purpose is to enable people to share their experiences of health and care services. A perfect fit I thought. And gladly the interview panel thought the same. 

In between me finishing my previous role and starting my new role, Covid-19 happened!

As you can imagine this is a very strange time to be starting a new role, as it is a strange and difficult time for everyone at the moment. On my first day, rather than walking through the door of an office and being welcomed by my new colleagues, I sat down in my home office, turned on my computer and logged into a video meeting. As you can imagine, all of the nerves you have on your first day were amplified by a situation that was alien to me. 

I very quickly realised, that this was not only the case for me, my colleagues on the video call, but for the rest of the team at Care Opinion, and everyone else in the world who is having to change their working practice because of the Covid-19 crisis. Knowing that we were all in the same boat together, I have to admit, eased my nerves. Also it did help that I was met by a group of people who were wonderful, friendly, knowledgeable and passionate.

So, I’ve met pretty much everyone in the team via video conferencing (Teams and Zoom), spending time with each of them (on screen), learning from their experience and building relationships (virtually). I’ve also started to meet some of Care Opinions key partners in Scotland, who have all been very warm and welcoming (again all of these meetings and introductions have been done online or by phone). I am really looking forward to meeting everyone in person, but for the time being a virtual handshake will have to do!

In my first few weeks here at Care Opinion, I have very quickly come to recognise the importance of enabling the voices of people who want to tell their stories, for those stories to be shared and read widely, seeking change where it’s needed and giving credit where it’s due, leading to positive change for the future. This is especially true now more than ever, where our health and care services are under such pressure.

But how do we encourage these voices in this difficult time? That’s the big question. We recognise that social distancing is going to be with us in some form for some time, so the team at Care Opinion have come up with some brilliant ideas to engage with our subscribers across the UK to encourage people voices. Some of these have included:

  • Creating new online learning events.
  • Increasing the frequency of our “How to Sessions”
  • Sharing more case studies of the work of our subscribers through Videos and Blogs.
  • And one that I am very excited about exploring, an online Care Opinion conference.

These are just some ideas and believe me, the team have many many more. But we would love to hear your ideas as well, so please do not hesitate to get in touch!

So, what have I learned at the end of my first four weeks? I’ve learned that people are passionate about health and care services in the UK. I’ve learned that people in these services are dedicated to promoting and receiving feedback, whether positive or negative to learn from people receiving care. But my biggest take away is that Care Opinion provides an amazing safe space for good conversations to happen in an open and transparent way, that leads to positive change for the future.

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