Hello my name is Emma…

Hi my name is Emma and I am a service user and volunteer at Rosewood Involvement centre, I have been attending for just under a year.

When I first arrived at Rosewood I was in a low state of depression and had no self-confidence.

Since being at Rosewood I have danced with the Rosehips and sang with the music group at Highbury.

My confidence slowly regained and the help from everyone has really helped me with my recovery.

I am now a happy and smiley person again with a spring in my step. I have recently started work as a private carer after a year off work.

I couldn’t have done any of this without the help from every single person at Rosewood. I truly have made friends for life. I can’t thank them all enough.

Wishes can come true if you work and put your mind to it.

Hello my name is Jo…


As the manager of Volunteering and Befriending Services (or VBS for short), I have been chosen to write one of the first blogs to tell you a bit about me and the service that we offer. Over the next few months you will be able to meet the team. You will be able to find out about what it is like to volunteer or be a befriender and how we play a part helping to change the lives, services and culture of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

I have been manager here since 2012. Before that I was the co-ordinator and before that I was the Administration Assistant, all in all I have been here over ten years. I cannot believe that I have been here so long.

I love working here and am very proud of the wonderful staff and volunteers and the service that they offer, as well as the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and the way that they help people on our wards and in the community. From serving teas and coffees to feeding patients and spending time chatting with patients, it’s all so rewarding to see. The effect that they have on our service users and staff is really positive. In the coming months I hope to share some of these stories with you all.

What makes the job so interesting is that you never know what you are going to be doing from one day to the next. The job has changed enormously in the last few years and there are many challenges to face. Volunteering and Befriending Services has been around our Trust for over fifty years and if I have anything to do with it we will be here for at least the next fifty!

Guest piece- The five stages of being a carer (Trevor Clower)

Hello, my name is Trevor Clower, I am a carer, my son has a learning disability and autism, he is 44 years old, so that means I have been a carer for 44 years.

However, I am here today to talk about another kind of carer.

A person who goes through life making relationships and some get married.

They form a family life with kids and a home with a job and gets on with the day-to-day things that entails.

When suddenly, without any warning, their nearest and dearest is struck down with something. This is when, this person accepts their role as a responsibility towards the patient, someone they love, and cherish.

This is the point where the Five Sequences of Events starts to happen.

The first thing to be affected in this Sequence of Events will be your job. Maybe make it part time or just leave the job completely because of the time needed to be a full time carer.

The second thing in this Sequence of Events is your social life is reduced, severely. Not having the spare time to keep appointments, or arrangements, because of the pressures of being a Carer and its demands.

The third thing, in this Sequence of Events, is finding all the promises from good intentioned people to help you will dwindle because they too have a life to lead and they too have commitments of their own to deal with. In addition, you will get lots of advice from good intentioned people, but it is you, the carer, that has to carry out all this advice, which only adds to the 24 hours a day 7 days a week care you’re already giving.

The fourth thing, in this Sequence of Events, is the isolation. THE WORST! You start to sleep like a cat, the slightest noise in the night you’re awake. You can’t leave the house for more than an hour, for fear of the person you’re caring for has wandered out the house or fallen out of bed or taking the wrong medication. Professionals start to talk AT you, and not listen to you or take the time to understand what you are dealing with.

The fifth thing, in this Sequence of Events, is depression. This is when the you eventually pop up on the radar of services, but not as a carer, as a patient, for the first time, as a complete wreck. You cannot care effectively, and so the individual you care for places greater demands on services.

I hope that my words here will fall upon ears of someone who can make a difference, by intervening with this Sequence of Events.

By getting the professionals to include and consult the carer, by asking their advice on how to administer their treatment in a way that the patient will accept and understand.

By inviting the carer to patient meetings and listening to their problems in an open way, so no one is under any illusion on the amount of work and effort everyone is doing on behalf of the patient- that includes both the professionals and the carer.

This will effectively stop the isolation accruing and it will help the carer to feel valued and listened to.

By including the carer from the outset it will offer the professional a person who will have known the patient for most of their life.

Therefore the carer’s expertise can be put to good use in the administration of the treatment and effectively make the professional decisions have a more positive result.

So finally you will have a much happier patient, and we all know a happy patient always responds well to treatment.

You also have a happier carer, because you have intervened effectively, with the Five Sequence of Events, and stopped them from continuing.

And with the professional making better and more cost effective decisions and also keeping the carer from needing services, by simply doing what they do in a slightly different way, and including the carer, this will lead to a happier accountant too.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Patient Opinion- guest blog

At Patient Opinion we believe in the power of open, transparent feedback and its ability to make an impact.

We have a fantastic working relationship with Nottinghamshire Healthcare, which has been running since 2008. At the time of writing, Notts have 700 staff members registered on Patient Opinion. The rich collection of 1,953 stories have been read an astonishing 470,000 times.

In recognition of the way the trust has embraced online feedback, we have identified them as an exemplar organisation.

But what does this mean? For us, an exemplar organisation is able to show how the experience of users and carers are making a real difference to staff and services. A huge part of this is the cultural integration of Patient Opinion, which is an area Nottinghamshire Healthcare has excelled at.

As part of our exemplar work, we visited the trust to film for our upcoming video series. Hearing from a variety of staff about how they integrate the use of online feedback was inspiring and uplifting. It is clear that within the trust, the service user’s voice is listened to.

Our first visit was to Bingham Children’s Centre. Set amongst the colourful backdrop of radiant multi-coloured wallpaper, sandpits and toys, we were keen to hear just how such a cultural shift has been achieved. It wasn’t easy.

Sue Dyke, Involvement Manager, explained to us the challenge of spreading awareness and acceptance of public feedback. She said: “When it first started we tried to relay that there’s nothing to feel threatened about. It’s a bit daunting, the thought of comments online.

“It was trying to reassure staff that it was safe to do so, that all of those stories would be moderated and that they didn’t have anything to fear. As they’ve started to use it they can see that it works really well.”

Staff can be fearful online feedback will lead to blame. However, when stories and responses are visible to everyone, the impact can spread beyond the particular issue. Open feedback begins to result in change.

Overcoming fear is a common challenge. Nonetheless, when it is achieved the results can be empowering. Jenny Newman, Patient, Carer and Public Engagement Manager, said: “We’ve found that it gives people confidence to tell us the real story, because often at the beginning people were telling us stories that they thought we wanted to hear.

“We’ve been on a journey and so have the users and carers. Now they have trust in us to know that we do want to hear it, warts and all, and that we will work on what the issue is if there is one.”

We also heard from Jane Danforth, Involvement Manager, when we visited the Rosewood Involvement Centre. Jane discussed the use of PO Champions – whereby service users and carers can become volunteers and help receive feedback from others.

She said: “For some of our service users they’ve left feedback on the Patient Opinion site and been really pleased with the response that they’ve got back.

“Some have expressed an interest and a desire to actually help other people bring about changes by gathering feedback. I think it has given us that greater connection with service users.”

It is this level of dedication, as we have seen from Nottinghamshire Healthcare, which encapsulates the power of giving service users a voice. Empowering service users does not have to disempower staff – the reality is the often the opposite.

We are excited about continuing to develop our relationship. Together, we hope we really can make a difference.

Ricky Derisz – Subscriber Support Officer, Patient Opinion

Guest post- Debbie Fox

“As an involvement & experience officer, one of the most rewarding aspects to our work in the Involvement Team is telling new staff what can be achieved through genuine involvement. Each month for four days, an audience of around 60-100 new staff are guided through a huge amount of information about the work of our Trust and the support they can expect as new staff members.

The Involvement & Experience Team present the first session on day one. New staff hear about involvement before the Chief Executive presentation.. The message is clear.  Service users, carers, families, friends and Trust public members come first.

Debbie is a remarkable woman who has become a Trust Staff Member. Read her inspiring presentation to a packed induction October 2014”

Jane Danforth – Involvement Team

Each time I am asked to speak to new staff members I wonder how I can inspire you. My story is really no different to the millions of other stories that those who suffer with mental health problems have to tell. 1 in 4 of us – in theory 25% of this room will suffer with or know someone that suffers with their mental health. Take a look around the room and think about that for a minute 25% of this room – that a huge amount of people.

I have spent time on a ward which was without a doubt, one of the most harrowing experiences of my life, years in therapy, hated myself, hurt myself to point of being hospitalised. Had and indeed still take medications. I have tried the patience of those I love and care about.

I have run my own businesses and been very successful and then watched it all disappear. I have been unemployed and unable to work – two very different sides of that coin. I have been in receipt of benefits and the shame and frustration that is associated with them. I have looked and entertained alternative therapies

I have hidden myself away, loathing the thought of other people, even strangers seeing this pathetic creature. I have wanted to and tried to end my life believing that I had nothing left to live for and enduring emotions that I could scarcely describe but couldn’t bear to live with. I have been alone and isolated despite the fact that at 46 years of age I have never spent a night on my own. I have lived with the shame and embarrassment of being me.

However I have also found support, encouragement, friends and understanding in the most unusual of places. I have enjoyed and welcomed the rich diversity the world has to offer and I have laughed and smiled. I have learnt to accept my illness and embrace it.

So what now, I am a mother to 2 amazing children. I am a wife to a husband who has supported me every step of the way. I am a daughter to my parents who despite all the pain and heartache I caused were and still are incredibly proud of me. I am a sister to an amazing woman who loves me without question despite the fact that we are polar opposites. I am a friend to those I am lucky enough to be privileged to call friends.

I have been and still am a volunteer at this trust hence the pink lanyard – look out for them because they are the people who can really help you understand. I am also a member of staff within this trust, since February 2014 and I work at Nottinghamshire Healthcare’s Wellbeing College – part of Nottingham Recovery College, and that is because of the support I received from involvement.

I help to teach others by using my lived experience that there is a life after mental illness. This makes a massive difference. It is one of the richest areas of my life and a privilege to be part of. Seeing students come and learn and understand about their problems is an incredible reward. I get to see them be able to leave their home for the time in years, understand themselves and make some sense out of all the confusion around mental health.

I get to see them make friends support each other and feel comfortable because they are not judged. They grow and smile with genuine happiness because their live has value and meaning. They have hope, are in control and can assess opportunities. Students are also given time, have a choice and are listened too. If you can take that into your work with patients I feel that you won’t go far wrong.

This trust really gets under your skin- in a positive way. You will meet some wonderful people along the way and it is they who will inspire you in numerous ways but not least because of their courage to overcome adversity and their willingness to lead a normal life.

I would encourage each and every one of you to visit the Involvement centre and the Recovery College and learn how they can help you help your patients. This trust is about integration.  Between physical and mental health, between patients and staff, between colleagues and integration between different departments.

So back to my original dilemma – I don’t need to inspire you – the people whom you will be working with will do that far better than anyone else.

I am Debbie Fox and I have mental health problems but I’m also just Debbie