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How can you complain about or praise care?

Sometimes it can feel like we have no voice in eldercare. Yet there are opportunities to give your opinion to people who will listen and can act on your feedback. If not that, they will at least share your experiences for the benefit of others.

Talking about the NHS

The NHS appears to be becoming more open to asking about patient experiences and acting on them.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the Friends and Family test. If you use hospital services you’re likely to be asked to complete a form asking whether you would recommend that department or ward to a friend or member of the family. It’s a very limited way to express your opinion although the NHS England  does say it may ask follow up questions.

There are a number of ways you can make a complaint about healthcare treatment. The NHS website is a good place to start, and you can also contact the Patient Liaison Service or your local Healthwatch or local authority for further advice.

Your GP health centre may involve you in its regular surveys. It is also likely to run a Patients Participation Group, aimed at receiving and acting on feedback from a select number of patients. You may well receive a message inviting you to respond to the Friends and Family questions after your appointment.

Making complaints about a GP surgery seems to be a little problematic as patients are directed to make their comments directly to the surgery itself. There seems to be a great fear that making a complaint will result in the patient being struck off the surgery’s list.

A different way to make your voice heard is through the independent Patient Opinion service. We’ve used it and they’ve replied personally and said they would pass on our feedback. Patient Opinion tweets out comments which are regularly positive.

Although largely known for their campaigning The Patient’s Association offer a similar review service to Patient Opinion allowing you to find your local hospital and see how others have rated it on a variety of scores including cleanliness and the helpfulness of staff.

You can also give your feedback to the Care Quality Commission, which is responsible for inspecting organisations such as hospitals, GP centres, mental health, care homes and more. The Commission promises that every comment is looked at by inspectors and welcomes good feedback as well as bad.

Recommending care

In the last year or so we’ve seen an explosion of directories around elder care. In the early days there was real fear that an imbalance of unreasonable negative reviews could have a profound impact on a care home or service provider. As time goes on and more reviews are posted, this imbalance is likely to decrease. A few of the sites you can recommend (or not) the services you’ve experienced:

Good Care Guide on eldercare

Carehome.co.uk for recommending care homes

Travel

Thanks to TripAdvisor, travellers are well accustomed to leaving and reading feedback about hotels and resorts they’ve visited. Disabled travellers are becoming better catered for too, with TripAdvisor offering a forum for travelling with disabilities. Sites such as Wheelchair travelling offer the opportunity to add your own reviews on accessible tourism.

If you’re looking for opinions on accessible attractions in the UK for a disabled parent Accessible Guide have a searchable visitor review section to help you track down day trips they can enjoy. You can also share your experience of places you’ve visited that you feel particularly cater for people with disabilities.

Silver Travel Advisor has been specially designed to cater for the needs of “mature” travellers offering a forum for advice and reviews on all aspects of holidaying as an older person from airport parking and car hire to destination and restaurant feedback.

Products

We’re seeing growing numbers of websites offering products for the less mobile and nimble. If you’ve tried products such as these, you can offer your opinions to consumer groups such as Which? and Rica, which focuses its research on areas such as mobility and home technology.

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