Patient Opinion- guest blog

At Patient Opinion we believe in the power of open, transparent feedback and its ability to make an impact.

We have a fantastic working relationship with Nottinghamshire Healthcare, which has been running since 2008. At the time of writing, Notts have 700 staff members registered on Patient Opinion. The rich collection of 1,953 stories have been read an astonishing 470,000 times.

In recognition of the way the trust has embraced online feedback, we have identified them as an exemplar organisation.

But what does this mean? For us, an exemplar organisation is able to show how the experience of users and carers are making a real difference to staff and services. A huge part of this is the cultural integration of Patient Opinion, which is an area Nottinghamshire Healthcare has excelled at.

As part of our exemplar work, we visited the trust to film for our upcoming video series. Hearing from a variety of staff about how they integrate the use of online feedback was inspiring and uplifting. It is clear that within the trust, the service user’s voice is listened to.

Our first visit was to Bingham Children’s Centre. Set amongst the colourful backdrop of radiant multi-coloured wallpaper, sandpits and toys, we were keen to hear just how such a cultural shift has been achieved. It wasn’t easy.

Sue Dyke, Involvement Manager, explained to us the challenge of spreading awareness and acceptance of public feedback. She said: “When it first started we tried to relay that there’s nothing to feel threatened about. It’s a bit daunting, the thought of comments online.

“It was trying to reassure staff that it was safe to do so, that all of those stories would be moderated and that they didn’t have anything to fear. As they’ve started to use it they can see that it works really well.”

Staff can be fearful online feedback will lead to blame. However, when stories and responses are visible to everyone, the impact can spread beyond the particular issue. Open feedback begins to result in change.

Overcoming fear is a common challenge. Nonetheless, when it is achieved the results can be empowering. Jenny Newman, Patient, Carer and Public Engagement Manager, said: “We’ve found that it gives people confidence to tell us the real story, because often at the beginning people were telling us stories that they thought we wanted to hear.

“We’ve been on a journey and so have the users and carers. Now they have trust in us to know that we do want to hear it, warts and all, and that we will work on what the issue is if there is one.”

We also heard from Jane Danforth, Involvement Manager, when we visited the Rosewood Involvement Centre. Jane discussed the use of PO Champions – whereby service users and carers can become volunteers and help receive feedback from others.

She said: “For some of our service users they’ve left feedback on the Patient Opinion site and been really pleased with the response that they’ve got back.

“Some have expressed an interest and a desire to actually help other people bring about changes by gathering feedback. I think it has given us that greater connection with service users.”

It is this level of dedication, as we have seen from Nottinghamshire Healthcare, which encapsulates the power of giving service users a voice. Empowering service users does not have to disempower staff – the reality is the often the opposite.

We are excited about continuing to develop our relationship. Together, we hope we really can make a difference.

Ricky Derisz – Subscriber Support Officer, Patient Opinion

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