The Coronavirus pandemic has brought about a lot of changes to our lives. We wanted to check in with our service users to see how they were feeling and if we are still doing the best that we can for you.

We know that there has been changes in the way that you access services, receive appointment information and your ability to talk to others in a similar position for peer support.

11 of our services put together surveys for their service users covering the general themes of support, access and communication, but also added in some service specific questions.

We received an overwhelming response with 1,304 individuals sharing their experiences with us.

It was really positive to see an overwhelming amount of praise and gratitude to staff for their hard work and ongoing support during this difficult time. However, there were also some areas where we can improve.

You can take a look at the results from every service that took part below:

Although surveys were individual to each service, some common themes stood out from the looking at all of the responses.

The four main themes that came out of the feedback were:

  • Telephone and online appointments vs face-to-face appointments
  • Communication
  • Accessibility and maintaining contact
  • Service user and carer support groups

You can take a look at a summary of what you told us and what we're doing about it by clicking on each of the boxes below. 

Telephone and online appointments vs face-to-face appointments

What did you tell us?

Most people told us they found telephone and online appointments helpful and were grateful to have them, especially when body language could be seen on video appointments.

An additional benefit was not having to travel to appointments, which allowed more flexibility for appointment times and was less stressful for many.

There was, however, an overwhelming desire for returning to face-to-face appointments as soon as possible.

Issues highlighted a lack of privacy at home, difficulty in building proper relationships with staff when not seeing them in person, problems with technology and communication difficulties.

So what have we done?

Wherever possible, we have made the necessary changes so that people can return to face-to-face appointments safely.

Risk assessments of buildings have been carried out and staff have worked hard to be able to welcome service users back on site.

Some clinicians have seen service users at different sites to ensure they can be seen face-to-face if that is what they prefer.

Communication

What did you tell us?

Good communication and clear, easy to follow instructions were given in letters for using the online Attend Anywhere system.

However, overall the feedback suggested that more could be done to communicate the changes in how services are running and what support is available.

Many people told us that the amount of contact they had with services has been less since the pandemic began and suggested that the website could be better used to help with communication.

So what have we done?

Services are looking at how to better utilise the website to improve communication. For example, sharing the results of this survey.

Many services have sent out letters which include communication about what they've been doing in response to the feedback they’d received, as well as letting people know what is happening within the service.

Accessibility and maintaining contact

What did you tell us?

People who were able to keep contact with their key worker, despite the changes, were very grateful.

However, there was feedback that some people were not able to contact the team they needed, with long waits on the phone and call backs not being received.

Communication for service users who live alone could be especially improved during these times.

So what have we done?

Where support groups haven’t been able to meet a monthly newsletter has been produced to keep in touch with service users and this has received positive feedback.

Service user and carer support groups

What did you tell us?

While peer support has continued in some areas with some of the support groups moving online or to telephone support, the general feedback was that more communication was needed about what peer support is and what is available.

People are missing face-to-face engagement and would like more contact and support for both themselves and their carers.

Ideas included holding more support groups online, meeting outdoors, one to one support meetings, online courses and the introduction of socially distanced hobby groups.

So what have we done?

Alternative locations have been found for some groups to meet and others are now being facilitated in an online format.

The Trust holds a Quality Improvement Forum monthly and in January 2021 one of the discussions was about service user support groups during the pandemic.

The Stronger Together Group for the Early Intervention Service shared how they've moved to being online via Microsoft Teams and now meet monthly, and that they've been offering Zoom calls in between as a sort of buddy system between service users. 

This learning is being shared with other services with the suggestion to link up with the Stronger Together members to learn, share and help set up similar forums or groups in other areas.

What have we done with the results?

The results of the surveys have been presented at various Trust staff meetings and forums for discussion.

As well as service user and carer experience, each service involved in this piece of work has also sent a similar survey out to their staff to find out their experiences and views of the changes that have taken place during the pandemic.

Each service has fed back to their staff both the praise for their hard work and fantastic support provided but also the areas where improvements could be made.