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Embracing Feedback and Empowering Service Users to Get Involved

Change from Northern Health and Social Care Trust

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About: Northern Health & Social Care Trust

picture of Leigh Morgan

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust launched Care Opinion on the 3rd of August 2020.  Care Opinion has provided service users, families and carers the opportunity to share their experiences of Health and Social Care.

The Trust received a story from a service user, which described their poor experience whilst visiting our acute hospitals with their Guide Dog.  In this case, staff did not adhere to the etiquette required when an assistance dog is in harness, resulting in the dog becoming distracted.

The author of the Care Opinion story, known as ‘CPY’, was offered and made contact with the Trust’s Care Opinion Facilitator.  With the authors consent, details of their story were shared with the Trust’s Equality Team.

The Trust Equality/PPI Team said,

‘When we received the valuable feedback left on Care Opinion regarding staff knowledge around assistance dogs, we wanted to think about how we could improve awareness in the Trust going forward. As the Trust’s Equality/PPI Unit we thought about designing a poster to be displayed throughout the Trust, in reception/waiting rooms for everyone to see. 
We wanted to make sure the poster covered the importance of assistance dog etiquette.  Working in partnership with ‘CPY’ and other service users we were able to design a poster which is now off to the printers for the final stage in design. 
The Service Users involved are part of the Trust’s Involvement Network, which is made up of over 250 service users, carers and representative organisations. They are a group of individuals who work in partnership with the Trust to develop our services. Whether this is co-designing a new service, co-producing training or having input into the information we provide, they are a key resource for the Trust. Members of our Involvement Network are part of a mailing list and we share involvement opportunities, resources and support information with them on a regular basis.’

This story has proven how valuable service user feedback can be, and how important it is for us as a Trust to listen and learn from the experiences our service users, families and carers have whilst using our services.

‘CPY’ said,

‘Being disabled can be disempowering. People tend to treat you differently and particularly as a relatively new guide dog owner I have noticed that many people go out of their way to interact with my guide dog, ignoring the sign on her harness asking people to not distract her, and completely disregarding the fact that I need her full attention to keep me safe. It happens most times we go anywhere and it can be exhausting and infuriating. The one place I assumed it wouldn’t be an issue was in a healthcare facility so it was particularly frustrating, in the middle of a pandemic to have two different staff members ignore social distancing and guide dog etiquette to pet her while she was working.

The Care Opinion platform was a fantastic and timely way for me to share my experience in a targeted way and it was fantastic to get some responses from people within the trust thanking me and planning to actively address it. I was asked to review documents to improve visible information around correct guide dog etiquette which was an incredibly positive and empowering outcome.
Disabled people have a wealth of lived experience and it is so important to ensure that they are fully involved in any initiative like this. Care Opinion allows service users a platform to bring issues to light which might not otherwise be heard.’

Your experience matters to us here in the Northern Trust.  We are listening, and we want to learn from you. #TeamNorth

For further information about our Involvement Network or to join, please contact Lynda Elliott:


Tel: 028 2766 1453

Response from Leigh Morgan, CO Facilitator, Patient Experience, NHSCT on

Here is the co-designed poster being printed:

This blog post is closed to responses.

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