Who wants to listen to what you think?
Sometimes it can feel like we have no voice in eldercare. Yet there are opportunities to give your opinion to people who will listen and can act on your feedback. If not that, they will at least share your experiences for the benefit of others.
Time-limited surveys and questionnaires
At the time of writing (June 2014) the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives is looking for recent users of the ambulance service in England to talk about why they called for an ambulance. The aim is to get a better understanding of how the service is being used.
Whenever these types of surveys cross our path we try to highlight them for our readers. It’s very easy to miss being part of a questionnaire like this.
Talking about the NHS
The NHS appears to be becoming more open to asking about patient experiences and in some cases acting on them.
We’ve talked elsewhere about the Friends and Family test. If you use hospital services you’re likely to be asked to complete a form asking whether you would recommend that department or ward to a friend or member of the family. It’s a very limited way to express your opinion although the NHS England website does say it may ask follow up questions.
Your GP health centre may involve you in its surveys which are sent out to selected patients twice a year. The opinion poll is carried out by Mori and chosen patients can fill in the printed form or respond online.
We tried viewing the comments made about local GP surgeries on NHS Choices but sadly the site was experiencing difficulties. We’ll come back to it if we ever get it to work. It purports to give you the opportunity to rate a wide range of NHS services such as opticians, dentists and mental health.
Making complaints about a GP surgery seems to be a little problematic as patients are directed to make their comments directly to the surgery itself. There seems to be a great fear that making a complaint will result in the patient being struck off the surgery’s list.
A different way to make your voice heard is through the independent Patient Opinion service. We’ve used it and they’ve replied personally and said they would pass on our feedback. Patient Opinion tweets out comments which are regularly positive.
Although largely known for their campaigning The Patient’s Association offer a similar review service to Patient Opinion allowing you to find your local hospital and see how others have rated it on a variety of scores including cleanliness and the helpfulness of staff.
You can also give your feedback to the Care Quality Commission, which is responsible for inspecting organisations such as hospitals, GP centres, mental health, care homes and more. The Commission promises that every comment is looked at by inspectors and welcomes good feedback as well as bad.
In the last year or so we’ve seen an explosion of directories around elder care. In the early days there was real fear that an imbalance of unreasonable negative reviews could have a profound impact on a care home or service provider. As time goes on and more reviews are posted, this imbalance is likely to decrease. A few of the sites you can recommend (or not) the services you’ve experienced:
Good Care Guide on eldercare
Find me good care for anything from dementia to day care
Carehome.co.uk for recommending care homes
Compare All Care goes even further and covers district nurses and dentists
Thanks to TripAdvisor, travellers are well accustomed to leaving and reading feedback about hotels and resorts they’ve visited. Disabled travellers are becoming better catered for too, with TripAdvisor offering a forum for travelling with disabilities. Sites such as World in a wheelchair and Wheelchair travelling offer the opportunity to add your own reviews on accessible tourism.
If you’re looking for opinions on accessible attractions in the UK for a disabled parent Accessible Guide have a searchable visitor review section to help you track down day trips they can enjoy. You can also share your experience of places you’ve visited that you feel particularly cater for people with disabilities.
Silver Travel Advisor has been specially designed to cater for the needs of “mature” travellers offering a forum for advice and reviews on all aspects of holidaying as an older person from airport parking and car hire to destination and restaurant feedback.
We’re seeing growing numbers of websites offering products for the less mobile and nimble. If you’ve tried products such as these, you can offer your opinions to consumer groups such as Which? and Rica, which focuses its research on areas such as mobility and home technology.
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