Care and support is something all of us will receive at some point in our lives. However, our experiences of that care are likely to vary. Some of them will be good and perhaps even excellent, and some might be dissatisfactory and disappointing. Opportunities to express opinions about these good and bad experiences are not always available. Services often have complaints procedures in place but people may not wish to formally complain: rather they might prefer to suggest a change to improve a service, or comment on very good or bad care. And that's where Care Opinion comes in. Care Opinion is a website where anyone - service users, families and carers - can share their stories of adult social care or the NHS. It is a sister site to Patient Opinion (which covers health services), but works across health and social care which is increasingly important in light of integration. Care Opinion, like Patient Opinion, is a not-for-profit social enterprise run for the benefit of users, carers, staff and the public.
Currently, Care Opinion covers adult social services, as well as NHS services in England, and two pilot areas in Scotland: Fife; and Ayrshire and Arran. The learning from the Scottish pilots will be used to inform how it develops. Those behind the scenes at Care Opinion work hard to ensure that the right people hear the stories that are told. Providers are contacted on receipt of feedback and decisions are then be made as to how to respond. Ultimately, Care Opinion aims to bring a level of transparency to health and care services and help improve them. It is important to stress that people's stories are anonymous and kept confidential. Care Opinion is set up to be independent of services and authorities. Its three main advantages include:
- Online story sharing about health and social care experiences
- See what others are saying about services
- See how services respond and when they make a change
Care Opinion gives voice to those who use services, their families and carers. It's important that providers hear these voices, good or bad, so that services and support can grow and develop.