I joined Millbrook Healthcare as a Community Health Engagement Officer (CHEO), in the East Sussex Wheelchair Service, in Eastbourne, in November 2020. This is a new role for the East Sussex service, however it’s one that’s been successful in other areas of our company.
The main focus of a CHEO is around service user engagement and involvement, which has been made slightly more difficult in the current times, with Covid-19. I have, however, been able to make progress in the role. I’ve had telephone calls with service users to talk to them and to listen to them about their experience with our company, which has been a truly positive experience and confirmed what I thought – I work with a great team. Continuing to provide service user engagement during the pandemic has had its challenges, however being able to share service user feedback with the team has shown them how valued they are by our service users; it’s boosted the team’s morale and further motivated them.
Part of my role is about using service user feedback to develop better service delivery, implementation and ongoing operational management. To enable this we’re looking at customer feedback and surveys and how to make the information more specific to qualitative data, rather than a general feedback form. By asking more specific questions w’re able to establish a more service user based foundation on which to provide an enhanced lived experience for those referred into our service. I also get to work alongside the Service Centre Manager and Clinical Lead on all dispute resolution work, which is both challenging and fulfilling.
Communications with our service users is another important piece of our work, for which we use leaflets, emails and social media to improve our connection with service users and other providers/services in our local communities. We’re developing a communications strategy to help us understand what is needed and how to develop our communications to make sure our information is easy to understand, clear, timely and most importantly, useful to our service users. One of my goals is for us to improve our presence in the public domain and to provide the right information to our service users, at the right time and in the right way.
By working in partnership with other service providers, stakeholders and community partners and carers, I aim to spread the word about Personal Wheelchair Budgets and help to signpost for third party funding and other services. In an ideal world, I’d be out in the community making those links and bringing events together for all to attend and network at, however in the current pandemic this is via Teams calls, phone and email, however I feel positive that we’ll get that opportunity to do this in person when Covid-19 restrictions are reduced. In the meantime I continue to recruit potential members for our Service Improvement Boards (please feel free to apply to be involved) to help us bring experts from other services or those with particular knowledge to help advise and develop good practices in operational management. This may also help us to develop a directory of preferred suppliers by assessing and recording the competence of independent wheelchair and mobility suppliers that can work directly with us on individual client cases.
I’ve experienced life as a carer so I have a particular interest in that subject and have linked with our local Care for the Carers to see what we can do to help them provide services to their carers. I hope to be able to provide facilities and assistance with groups at our service centre, as well as signpost them to other support and advice. While our focus is on our service users and making a difference to their lives, it also extends to our service users’ carers. So our service users’ carers health and wellbeing is important to us too and together we play an important role in enhancing our service users’ lives.
I hope as the year goes on, and as the fight against Covid 19 continues to be won, that I’ll be able to be out in our local community, providing information, advice, support and a smile for our service users, their families and their carers and providing the best service we can and making a difference to people’s lives.