Last year we carried out a survey to ask our service users about their experience of using our services during the pandemic.

We know how difficult it has been for everyone during this period, especially if you're already receiving support.

We wanted to know about what's gone well, what hasn't gone so well and what we can improve on. All staff working in the service were also contacted to listen to their experiences of providing the service during this time had been.

We received 194 individual responses from our service users and carers from our older adult teams; Older Adults Community Mental Health Team, Memory Service and Older Adults Home Treatment Team, either by answering the questionnaire or via telephone. 

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken part. Your feedback is really important to us and we have been considering it carefully.

The findings have been shared with staff and we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the main themes that emerged and how we have responded.

Good access

We were pleased to hear that nearly all of those who responded knew who to contact during the pandemic and had been able to access the support they required.

To improve the responses to service users contacting via telephone the Older Adults Community Mental Health Team's telephone answering messages have been changed to clear and short messages, and telephones are now answered in person during the day.

The positive feedback around accessibility and overall experiences of the services is something to celebrate.

To further develop the access to these teams a quality improvement project has been started where staff members come together to look at possible improvements with a special focus on unplanned care.

Links with service users from the Helping One Another support group are being explored for service user participation in this process. 

Choice of appointments

We know that for many patients face-to-face is the preferred.

We have been working with staff to explore the use of Attend Anywhere to offer video appointments as an alternative to phone appointments while ensuring to take into consideration service users and carer’s needs as well as the type of intervention.

In order to increase staff’s confidence in offering and using video appointments two administration staff from the Older Adults Community Mental Health Team took on the role of Attend Anywhere champions. 

The Memory Service is looking to set up practical sessions for staff, and forms are being developed to provide clear guidance on how to set up and facilitate these appointments.

This is important as looking to the future we would like to continue to offer that choice of appointment type even after a return to more face-to-face appointments. 

As service user and carers have highlighted different communication needs, including hearing and sight, the services are gathering information as part of the initial assessment and on the appointment slips in the Memory Service to ensure service users can share their preference of appointment method.

Promotion of support groups

As a result of the pandemic peer support such as the Helping One Another group and other peer support from outside the Trust stopped. Service users and carers reported having some support from families and friends. However, a clear wish for more support was expressed.

The Memory Service is considering setting up online café sessions for service users waiting to be seen. This is supported by a working group consisting of staff members and service users from the Memory Service and Older Adults Community Mental Health Team who are planning to link in with Age UK and the Dementia Advice Service.

A Helping One Another newsletter is produced monthly to share information about peer support groups.

A central email and telephone contact for the group is in place for comments, feedback and managing enquiries.

To find out more

If you would like to find out more or to see the results in more detail please email the Quality Improvement Team on  qiteam@shsc.nhs.uk or speak to a member of staff within your service.

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