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How did Care Opinion start and who is behind it?
Care Opinion (formerly Patient Opinion), was founded by Paul Hodgkin, a GP in Sheffield, who wanted to make the wisdom of patients available to the NHS. Patient Opinion Australia was launched in 2012 as a not-for-profit charitable organisation. The Chief Executive and founder of Australia is A/Professor Michael Greco. Similar to the UK set-up, Patient Opinion Australia has a board that governs its strategic direction.
The initial phase of Care Opinion in the UK was funded by a grant in 2012 from the Department of Health's Third Sector Innovation Fund in the United Kingdom.
We believe that stories from users of care and support services are really valuable and should be made available as widely as possible. So we never charge people for access to the stories and we encourage others to re-publish stories. This means that the published version of your story (but never any of the other information you give Care Opinion Australia) may appear on other websites such as the Consumers Health Forum of Australia.
Care Opinion Australia and Patient Opinion Australia are run by a single integrated team who are passionate about real experiences and insights into better services for care and health. Care Opinion is wholly owned by Patient Opinion and like Patient Opinion is not-for-profit. Patient Opinion has its own independent board and is entirely separate from the government. It is structured as a not-for-profit charitable organisation. All surplus goes back to improve our services.
How does Care Opinion make its money?
Like lots of websites, Care Opinion's basic service is free: the public can add stories, search the site and sign up to follow stories of interest for free. Our funds are raised by charging a subscription fee to those care and support providers (such as nursing homes) who want to get access to support from our staff, detailed reporting, unlimited email alerts and other tools that help busy staff make the most of user feedback.
Since Care Opinion is run on a not-for-profit basis any surplus is redirected back to improving the service we offer and not to shareholders or the government.
Care Opinion is:
- independent of the Government
- not-for-profit. If we were for-profit or part of the government, they might be uncomfortable about us publishing critical stories.
- funded by subscriptions. This means that there are no big funders who can 'pull the plug' if things get uncomfortable.
- free of advertising - we're here to enable your voice to be heard, rather than to make money or sell you stuff
What happens to my story?
Before your story can be published on the site it will be read by someone from Care Opinion. We do our best to make sure that it is not obscene, defamatory or offensive (if it is, we reserve the right to edit it or not to publish it).
If your feedback is very critical we may email you to check that it is sent in good faith. If we do not get a reply, we may not be able to publish very critical stories.
We want your story to be heard by as many people as possible. So we make it really easy for other organisations to display our stories on their websites. That way your voice can be as effective as possible.
Finally, when we do publish your story, we will email you to let you know.
So you can see that all this may take some time. So, if you are waiting for your story to be published, please bear with us.
Why do you need my email address and postcode?
We need your email address so that we can get in touch about your story - particularly if it is serious. Having your email address also helps us to be sure that we know your story was shared in good faith.
Also, we will email you if your story gets a response from someone in the health or social care service. And you can log in again, and respond or share other future experiences with us.
Knowing your postcode helps us select the services you are likely to be interested in when you share your story with us. A postcode also makes your comments count for much more because it helps us direct your story to just the right people locally. This means that what you say is much more likely to have an impact.
You are right to be careful about giving out your email address and postcode. And we will treat both with respect. Care Opinion will never give or sell or trade your personal information to anyone, under any circumstance.
How is the information that I give used to improve services?
Providers of care and support services use Care Opinion in two main ways:
- To find out what users think of their services, post replies and log any improvements they may make.
- To share stories on behalf of their vulnerable users about the services their residents receive from other services.
We are convinced that service user's experiences - good or bad - are essential to improving social care. You can see how this happens in health on Patient Opinion.
Just look at the latest changes being made by health services on the site.
Do you publish everything?
As of October 2018, we have published approximately 95% of all the stories that have been submitted. Most stories require some editing to ensure that they meet our basic moderation principles and to keep everyone safe. It is very important to us to maintain the authenticity of stories, and this is kept in front of mind while moderating your story.
Of the approximately 5% that are not published, they are made up of:
- very critical postings where we cannot verify that the email address is correct;
- some postings where the incident forms part of legal proceedings; and/or
- postings that are confusing, extremely long or about events that occurred more than 3 years ago.
How do you know that the opinions posted are truthful and from real people?
We have a number of ways of checking that postings to Care Opinion are reliable. We also reserve the right to exclude people who abuse the system or whose postings are offensive.
Why doesn't Care Opinion have much about general practices, dentists and so on?
These services are so much smaller it is much harder to protect the anonymity of patients who are making the comments. We want to make sure that feedback is really useful for small services like this, so we have been carefully working out the best way to work with them.
We have just started working with a few practices to trial this work. We will give more updates on this as the work progresses.