Our Key aims

Feedback about service user and carer experience helps us to better understand what it is like to receive support and gain insight into what works well and can be celebrated and replicated, as well as what could be improved. The Team undertakes in-depth reviews of local experience of services and makes recommendations for cross organisational improvements based on this feedback.

How we gain insight from your feedback

Until 2017, patient and carer feedback were gathered monthly by our services across the GP Care Group. It was not always possible to understand the impact of this monthly feedback so from 2017 our Patient Experience team has been undertaking whole system reviews by pathway, enabling community insights to be gathered across Tower Hamlets. As part of this, our services, frontline staff, managers, and those in more strategic roles are engaged in sharing their views alongside our services users, carers, community activists, and engaged citizens.

This enables our Patient Experience team to capture and share a wide range of experiences and views across the borough. The reviews so far have included recommendations to improve integrated service provision and user experience, and there has been a high degree of success in achieving implementation of many of the recommendations made across partner services 

What has the team done so far?

To date, the team has produced comprehensive reports looking at continence, foot health, admission avoidance, and safe discharge from the hospital, and the team is currently completing a review exploring support for informal carers. The team is also responsive to concerns raised across the Care Group and is open to other potential whole systems reviews as defined locally.

In addition to these substantive pieces of work, the team has contributed to service evaluations including that of the Urgent Treatment Centre, The GP Out of Hours Hubs, and

our Home Monitoring service, as well as the experience of patients who were shielding during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team also supported our Tower Hamlets Together (THT) partners in Barts Health in evaluating the virtual pulmonary rehabilitation programme delivered during the lockdowns.

Along with other Patient and Service User Experience Leads across the THT partnership, the Patient Experience team has also recently been looking at the impact of the pandemic on Mental Health. The team plans to look in particular at the experience of first-time mothers and also gain a staff perspective in the 0-19 service workforce.

The next whole systems review to be undertaken by the team will focus on Substance Use in Tower Hamlets.

Data Collection and Methodologies

The team has adapted some of their methodologies used to meet the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. These now include using video calls, Face Time Zoom and MS Teams or telephone calls to safely conduct the interviews.

Prior to the outbreak the Patient Experience team’s most often used methodology was face-to-face interviews (also known as a ‘Discovery interview’), often conducted in the patient’s home or a neutral community space. This gives the person an opportunity to share their personal experiences in a more comfortable atmosphere and enables them to focus on the issues or parts of their journey as a patient or carer that are important to them. Since the easing of lockdown there have been a limited number of 1:1 interviews undertaken face to face with service users, usually hosted by Voluntary Sector organisations who can provide Covid-safe environments.

For those who prefer not to engage on a one-to-one basis, there are opportunities to participate in focus groups. The team commonly used to visit existing groups or facilitate focus groups in community settings where people felt most comfortable. Before the pandemic this included face-face visits to centres such as Sonali Gardens, where there are a large number of Bengali and South Asian service users and the ‘Create’ Adult Day Centre for people with learning disabilities, and these sessions have also begun to be facilitated face to face once more.

Our aim is to reach as many communities as possible to capture views and ensure the best quality healthcare is provided to Tower Hamlets as a whole.

Focus groups range from

  • Specialist user-led groups by a medical condition, such as the Arthritis and MS support groups.
  • Older people
  • Hostels attended by homeless people
  • Cultural and faith-based
  • Those who have come together by geographical locality.

Language and Disability Support for patients

The Patient Experience is a team of four (1.7 WTE) although two members are Bengali/Sylheti speaking, there has been a degree of reliance on family members where patients have been unable to communicate directly due to language barriers (e.g., Somali, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Arabic, and other community languages not spoken by the team). However, the service plans to work more closely with the Advocacy and Interpreting Team to reach these community languages. Further support will also include using language lines for three-way telephone interviews or face to face interviews with a BSL interpreter present where appropriate.

The team have also used visual feedback forms and Talking Mats to support people with language, communication, or literacy issues. The service is also working with service managers across the GP Care Group to ensure that feedback tools such as leaflets and useful resources about services are available in different formats, including the most common-spoken languages in Tower Hamlets.

Previously proactive and successful attempts have been made to establish links with a wide range of additional community and cultural groups in Tower Hamlets. Although the pandemic has slightly interrupted these efforts, establishing strong connections with community groups has been revisited as a priority as we try to recover from COVID-19.

Since the pandemic, the team has facilitated and led virtual group discussions hosted by established community groups both where there is a pre-existing relationship and those established since the UK lockdown, as well as a limited number of in person sessions.

The team are very aware of and are attempting to tackle the issue of digital exclusion along with other Patient Experience Leads and organisations across Tower Hamlets. As there has been recurring easing of lockdown, the team has offered to attend face to face sessions to engage with the digitally excluded as restrictions are eased. While restrictions were in place, people who are unable to attend digital events were contacted by telephone individually to capture their views about services.

Once a whole systems review is completed, the team share the document with those who gave their feedback. Thereafter, follow up sessions are held to keep people informed about implementation of recommendations made so they remain informed about the impact of their involvement on coproducing service improvement.

Feedback is anonymous unless individuals wish to be named and identified in reports, and options to speak at Tower Hamlets Together Board level are offered where individuals express an interest in telling their story in person