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Guidance for supporting Volunteers and Staff

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Supporting authors to give feedback about their care and treatment is a really valuable role for volunteers.  In each organization, good practice determines that all volunteers should have a supervisor for the duties they undertake.  This protocol is designed to help both volunteers and the volunteer manager/supervisor to manage the process, so that both volunteers and the patients, users and carers they speak to, are kept safe.

Resources

Care Opinion recommends that all Volunteers and Staff should read through the "Resources for Volunteers and Staff" support pages available on the Staff and Volunteer Overview page.

These pages give detailed advice on how to explain about Care Opinion, how our moderation works and some tips on how to manage the conversations.

What is appropriate feedback:

Care Opinion is a Feedback Site, it is not the way to raise urgent issues about care.  This is normally best done directly with Staff, Keyworkers, Pals/Patient Experience, Care Review, Complaints, Key Worker etc   Volunteers should be aware of how to redirect authors if they feel comfortable doing so or raise it with Volunteer Manager.  See examples below. 

Often authors prefer to use Care Opinion as an informal anonymous feedback channel rather than raising a formal complaint.  However it does not replace the formal complaints process.  Different outcomes can be achieved for both the public and services by the complaints process which can investigate specific care episodes.

The unique value of CO is its independence, its an invitation to tell your story,   get a response from the provider, and in doing so contributes social value and learning for services.

Supporting Volunteers and Authors:

Talking about care and treatment can be quite emotional for authors and can trigger other feelings and thoughts.  They might start to tell volunteers about something which does not feel like feedback or feels like something that is too serious to send through to Care Opinion as feedback. 

When faced with a situation where they feel vulnerable or the situation has become in any way challenging, volunteers should feel empowered NOT to try and resolve this themselves.  They can take information down and tell patients that they will pass this through the moderation process.  This can be a neutral statement not guaranteeing that all content will be published.

If there are concerns then volunteers should take it through to their Volunteer Manager or other named person.  There is a Flow diagram that sits alongside this guidance which sets out this process.  This includes an opportunity for the Volunteer Manager/Staff Member to check postings out with Care Opinion Moderators

If volunteers feel that there are no issues with their feedback then they can send this straight through to Care Opinion.  Care Opinion moderation will still pick up any safeguarding or other concerns and act in accordance with their processes.

Most organisations will have their own training processes for volunteers.  For this role the skills required would include:  active listening, semi structured interviews, focus in key areas, non judgemental and compassionate approach.

For more information on any of the above please contact tim.hunt@careopinion.org.uk

Examples:

Case 1

In patient says they think they are being given the wrong medication which they feel is making them unwell but they don’t want to raise it because they are frightened of their key nurse who they think is a bit bullying.  Apart from that they tell you they like the ward environment and most of the nurses are kind and helpful.

Outcome:  Volunteer talks to manager and they discuss with the Ward Manager/Pals Team who goes to see the patient to resolve the issue.  Volunteer posts other feedback.

Case 2

Phone call to relative of patient who died in hospice or end of life setting 6 weeks after the bereavement.  Most of the care was really positive but there was one thing that could have been different that really upset the relative.  They are adamant that they don’t want to get anyone in trouble.  Once they understand its anonymous, staff are not named and the hospice do want to hear about what could be different then they agree to publish. 

Outcome:  Postings entered by volunteer using the Tell Your Story form.  Relative e mail entered so they can see a response and respond if they wish.

Case 3

Volunteer talks to user who is attending a community service.  They are unhappy at changes in the service due to Covid and feels that their key worker no longer has any time or capacity to deal with their deteriorating situation.  They don’t want to identify the worker in the posting.  They do name the role of the staff member.  They have an e mail.  Volunteer reassures user that Care Opinion will be careful about moderation and will contact the user if necessary about the posting.

Outcome:

Care Opinion moderate the story and hide the role of the staff member so it can be published.  Service contacts the user via response on Care Opinion giving details of someone to speak to about their concerns. 

Case 4

Patient tells volunteer that they are very upset about their care and that they feel that their consultant missed their diagnosis and delayed treatment.  They have submitted a formal complaint and want the individual details looked into.  They feel that the consultant was bullying and didn’t listen. 

Outcome.

Patient does want the individual’s actions looked into.  Volunteer and patient agree not to publish on Care Opinion but patient pleased to know about it for the future.

Last updated 01/04/2021

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