Listening to people who use our services during the coronavirus pandemic

18 June 2020
By Chris Barnes

Service user involvement is about making sure people can influence decisions that will affect them. To influence, people need the opportunity to speak and be heard. The voice of people using services provides valuable feedback and we need to make sure we always acknowledge and consider it.

Through my role as service user involvement coordinator, I have continually been impressed by the way people adapt and work collaboratively to overcome adversity and achieve incredible things.

Coronavirus has impacted on every aspect of our lives, including the way we deliver our services. Back in March, as changes to our ways of working started happening, we quickly noticed that our approach to hearing the voices of people who use our services needed to change.

Creating new ways of listening to feedback

Working with a group of helpful, resourceful, and diligent people, we tested ideas and created new methods. We started collating and analysing feedback daily, and used this to identify and share themes as they emerged. 

This gave us real-time feedback on the challenges and opportunities people using our services were facing during lockdown, and we were able to respond quickly.

By working together, adapting, and noticing how people wanted their voices to be heard, we heard multiple voices - loudly.

Triggering positive change

We have listened. We have shared nearly 800 pieces of feedback and responded to these quicker than ever before.

New methods, collaborative working, continuous feedback, and informed decision-making have helped us create positive change for the people who use our services and beyond.  

What we learned

This has been a significant journey for our service user involvement team. Here's what we learned:

  1. Acknowledging and responding to feedback in a meaningful way is easier and more effective when your key internal stakeholders are engaged.
  2. In order to have the biggest impact, you need to capture feedback from a variety of sources, share it with decision-makers, and respond quickly.
  3. Sharing stories helps to show the impact of feedback. It builds energy, contagion and trust. Visibility of feedback and responses leads to more feedback. 
  4. Empowerment is crucial. Feedback from people who use services is not about right or wrong; it is about enabling people to genuinely influence the decisions that impact them.
  5. Reflecting on learning informs future practice. It makes sure our work is effective and makes a difference.

Moving forward

It is critical that we continue to listen to the people who use our services.

If you are getting support from us, we have heard you. We now want to know more about your experiences. Please share your story and your experience through our survey.