Wrapping presents


30561685 - piles of presents  doodle heaps of gift boxesMy husband’s family are great at wrapping presents; they have the art of disguising the real content of a parcel down to a tee. Even gifts of cash for grandchildren come in large boxes. That way you never can be sure what’s beneath the wrapping paper.

I think feedback is a lot like this. When people give feedback about their care experiences they often have thought carefully how to wrap up, carefully, what they want to express. They give it as a gift – most often they say because they don’t want the same thing to happen to someone else, or they want to express thanks for an event that surpassed their expectations. They carefully wrap the gift in the words. It’s hard to choose how to express those words – just like carefully wrapping a present.

I’ve blogged before about how often services respond to these ‘gifts’. I think it’s often a response to the size of the parcel, when in fact they need to open the gift more carefully, examine what is inside and look at it with fresh eyes, irrespective of the wrapping.

It’s cliched maybe to say feedback is a gift but that is exactly what I believe. If we were to consider more carefully what people were saying and hear what they were expressing it would help us to focus on what we might need to do better, or what we are good at.

To do this we need to be able to unpick what feedback means; tune in to the real messages and focus on ‘what next?’.

presents 2For me that’s the real beauty of Care Opinion. It creates a perfect place for this to happen. The feedback is volunteered not sought, so its wrapping is most carefully expressed. The giver of the gift really wants it to make a difference and wants staff to hear what they have to say.  So, working with feedback in teams seems to me to be a no-brainer and that’s exactly what Care Opinion are seeking to do.

I know that if I was still a ward sister I would want to receive those gifts and would be anxious to look carefully at what was inside rather than just reacting to the size of the parcel.

I am delighted to have been asked to be a Non-Executive Director for Care Opinion and I will continue to help them create ways that people can offer the gift of feedback and work on how the service and individuals respond.

People Drive Digital Reflections


networkI have been to NHS EXPO today. As always it was great to meet lots of people I have met and worked with over a number of years; I love seeing them, giving them a hug and re-connecting with them (you all know who you are). It is one of the privileges of my working life that I have met so many fabulous people.

Today was interesting for me as I didn’t go to EXPO in my professional capacity but in a personal one, as someone who has an interest in digital innovation but from the perspective of a citizen and patient and today felt very different – but is it EXPO that has changed or me?

PDDigitalToday I briefly presented with Victoria Betton and Mark Brown the work we have done on People Driven Digital and the PDD Awards (HT to the others too Michael Seres, Kat McComack). I realised that I had changed from a year ago.

I spent many years as a nurse giving patients advice and information. We thought it was the right thing to do and of course it is but it’s also paternalistic, based on the assumption that ‘we’ know and ‘they’ don’t.

Over the last year my experiences of working in collaboration with other people like my fellow collaborators for #PDDigital, and many others in my social network with Diabetes, has made me realise that the system doesn’t know what problems people face as intimately as they do. We can make assumptions, we can guess and in doing so we may well get it wrong; we may hit the target and miss the point. Mark spoke eloquently today (you can read what he said here http://thenewmentalhealth.org/?p=182 and it’s well worth a read) about focussing on trying to find digital solutions to those issues that really matter to people, not necessarily the big things but those that in people’s lives make a real difference. You can see our presentation here

So today, whilst I wandered around EXPO, I reflected on what felt ‘real’ and what maybe mattered the most. There was little evidence of people driving solutions and creating ideas and I realised I had changed. I have come to realise that unless we engage at the start with the citizens, we are unlikely to make the differences we need to make. We might create elaborate solutions but may completely miss the point. We need People Driven Digital Innovation.

pump openerI have an example: I was a grateful receiver of a new insulin pump a few months ago. It has a snazzy screen and some new functionality that means if you are a user of a continuous glucose monitor (I am not funded to be one) then it will switch off the delivery of insulin if your blood glucose goes too low – very clever indeed. But what was it that delighted me when I collected my pump? On my old pump, in order to access the battery to replace it (yes insulin pump are powered by a traditional AA battery!!) I had to carry a 20p coin in my bag. It’s the only reliable way to be able to open the battery space – it’s tricky but fairly crucial to be able to get in! On my new pump there is a removable clip that had a snazzy little device on the end that enables you to open the battery space. A simple remoulding of the clip – inexpensive and functional – I know, I know, so simple – but it was the snazzy solution for the battery opener that delighted me. A small but delightful improvement and now I don’t worry about 20p pieces. Let’s try focussing on the small things that might matter to people.

How do you think we could develop the ideas from #PDDigital? Let us know.