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Launch of Care Opinion in Sligo and Donegal

Update from Care Opinion Ireland

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Patrick Nwoakorie, Area Lead for Mental Health Engagement and Tim Hunt Integration Development Manager Care Opinion


In an Irish context at least the words mental health have (hopefully) reached a stage where most of the population have a decent understanding of what they actually mean. As our understanding (health professionals, citizens and people with lived experience) of mental health and illness develops and evolves, so must our approach.

Connectivity with and to the people using mental health services is becoming more prevalent in the design and delivery of those services. Service user involvement in mental health services and recovery more broadly was founded in the rights-based service user movement which began in Anglophone countries the 1970s (Pincus et al. 2016). Over time, these ideas gained traction within health services so much so that engagement has become a basis of care quality and are a frequently stated goal for healthcare organisations around the world (Bombard et al. 2018; Kennedy et al. 2018).

Narrative feedback through storytelling and other means is a key feature for many organisations both private and public in 2021. Many of us live and interact in two worlds the real and the virtual world. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic many mental health services began to deliver healthcare virtually through video appointments and by telephone in order to minimise the risk of infection.

The Care Opinion platform sits in the virtual world but through the medium of storytelling it can help us in Mental Health Services understand how people experience the services we provide. This can lead to deeper understanding for all, service enhancements and improvements, transparency, greater trust and stronger relationships.

The roll out of Care Opinion in Donegal and its renewal in Sligo & Leitrim Mental Health Services provides a vehicle for a deeper understanding of the services we provide by offering a platform for listening, understanding and interacting. Services such as Mental Health Engagement and Recovery work with people who use mental health services and their family members, carers and supporters in order to learn from their experiences and collaborate with service providers.

The introduction of Care Opinion complements and enhances this work and allows people using mental health services and those who support them to interact and engage with service providers in a safe, secure and confidential manner by becoming authors of stories on the Care Opinion site. We look forward to hearing your story in 2021.

Care Opinion-Tim:

I am delighted to be writing this blog with Patrick at the start of a new chapter for Care Opinion working in Ireland.  Lots has happened in a variety of ways since I went to Sligo in November 2016 for a launch event , rolling out “Patient Opinion” as we were called back then.  There are now a lot more stories on the Care Opinion Ireland Site.  Its with great excitement that Patrick and I can now announce the start of this new partnership, working with old friends in Sligo and welcoming mental health services from Donegal.  There are things that haven’t changed:  Care Opinion is still a platform for everyone to have a voice about services that matter to them.  It’s still a public and transparent place for staff to listen and respond to feedback from the public and learn from the rich stories coming through.  All postings are carefully moderated by the expert Care Opinion team making it safe for the public and safe for staff. 

The Care Opinion site whilst keeping the same mission and values has seen a lot of innovative developments particularly aimed at making it easier for authors to tell their story during Covid19.  Our simple feedback (Kiosk) link can be sent out via text, or email to patients, service users and carers who might not be attending services in person.  It simplifies the story telling process and is linked already to each service.

Care Opinion will be working with staff in Donegal and Sligo in the coming months to ensure the public are aware of and start to use the site to feedback experiences of care.  As well as the statutory HSE services, we will welcome contact and interest from voluntary, community charity sector organisations, patient, user and carer groups.  There are lots of ways for a range of organisations to benefit from the site to access and share the feedback.  The site can also generate reports, visualisations and through its advanced alerting we ensure that staff see the stories important to them.   Here is an example of one of our tag bubble visualisations, click on the link to view the interactive visualisation:

Tag bubble Visualisation for Sligo Mental Health Services

Please do contact the Care Opinion team with any questions on

Response from Joanne O'Halloran, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Sligo/Leitrim Mental Health Service, HSE on

It is wonderful to see the development of Care Opinion in the North West. Care Opinion is a fantastic platform for people to be able to honestly and safely give feedback about their experiences of health care services. More importantly, It allows services to hear about these experiences and and to let a person know they have been heard and that what they say really does matter. Joanne

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