In April and May 2019 Millbrook Healthcare and the Kent and Medway CCGs invited service users, carers, relatives, representatives and stakeholders of the Wheelchair Service to attend engagement events in Rochester, Canterbury and Whitstable.
These events have provided an excellent opportunity for Millbrook Healthcare staff and commissioners to hear directly from service users about their experiences and listen to suggestions that can inform further improvements in the service. More than 60 people who use NHS-funded wheelchairs took part and initial feedback from the events has been positive, with the majority feeding back they had found them informative sessions where they have gained a better understanding of the service and Millbrook Healthcare’s plans to improve.
You Said, We Did:
There was a lot of useful feedback from the events, with service users saying they wanted Millbrook Healthcare to review the complaints process, improve how the service communicates with them and explain better the process for issuing new wheelchairs. Thanks to feedback gathered from the discussion groups at the events, a number of changes to the Wheelchair Service have been made, or will shortly be implemented.
Some of you told us that you had experienced poor customer service and felt there was a lack of lived experience and understanding of service users.
The customer service teams in the Gillingham and Ashford depots have merged and are now all based in Ashford which has improved communication between the team. The Customer Service Supervisor is providing training for staff to ensure standardisation of service delivery across the team, this will help to improve responses to service users queries and complaints. Millbrook Healthcare has also successfully recruited a Community Liaison and Engagement Officer with lived experience who has been in post since November 2019. Staff at Millbrook Healthcare, service users and other organisations/forums are already seeing the benefits of having this person in post. This role will be pivotal in building and strengthening relationships with all stakeholders.
Alongside this, Managers within Millbrook have attended Disability confidence for managers training which was run by Disability Rights UK.
You wanted communication to be improved such as staff being able to answer your queries and questions in a more timely manner.
- Millbrook Healthcare continues to invest in technology to better meet the needs of service users and staff.
- A better internal information system for the Kent and Medway Wheelchair Service was introduced in January 2019, which collects more accurate and timely information to be seen by staff and better supports patients through the 18 week pathway.
- Millbrook Healthcare is planning to introduce a service user portal so patients can track their referral and see how their case is progressing.
- We will be piloting a text message appointment reminder service later this year to reduce the number of people who miss their appointment.
- Improvement of Customer Service induction programme. The induction now includes specific wheelchair equipment training and customer service staff spend time shadowing field service engineers
You wanted to hear more about the service and be kept informed of updates and ongoing improvements to the service.
The new service user portal will be one way to keep service users informed with ongoing improvements. We will be introducing a quarterly electronic newsletter to email to service users to keep them up-to-date with the service and its improvements in 2020. We are planning a number of listening cafés across the region to gather feedback from service users and their carers and relatives, which also provides opportunities for us to feedback our progress on improving the service. We are also working on improving our use of social media as another way to interact with service users.
You wanted better handling of complaints with better communication and progress updates.
A Complaints Concerns and Compliments Steering Group has been established with service user representatives, CCG and Millbrook Healthcare colleagues working together to improve the handling of complaints and to ensure that learnings from complaints help drive further improvements in the service and deliver better outcomes for service users. Whilst there is no denying that the complaints process had previously not worked in the best interests of service users, efforts made over the last year driven by the Operations Manager have seen marked improvements in the timeliness of responses and engagement on a local level to achieve a resolution. The complaints policy and local service processes have been reviewed and the newly appointed Community Liaison and Engagement Officer will continue to drive this work forward to improve communications relating to complaints.
You told us about engineers not having all the equipment or spare parts required to complete repairs and not being able to request time slots for repair appointments.
There has been significant improvement in the number of repairs being completed in a timely manner however there is still more to do. Millbrook Healthcare has taken a number of actions to improve this area.
- A full review of the current routing system to ensure all localities in Kent and Medway are visited by engineers within the three working days target.
- The service has introduced a more flexible user-friendly offer of morning or afternoon and ‘first slot’ appointments.
- The new and improved real-time software reporting system which launched in January 2019 ensures that both sites are able to pro-actively manage and review repairs.
- Continuous review of stock holding to better align with repair requirements.
- New tracking system to enable better visibility of engineer location and therefore improve emergency response times.
Increased focus on process, to maintain adherence whilst driving improvement.
Alongside these changes, field service engineers have provided a crib sheet for the customer service team to use, and are available to speak with service users in advance of visits to try and ensure that repairs were done correctly first time. And a new dedicated Kent and Medway wheelchair service website is now available which enables service users to report repairs and upload photos of parts which need repair to support engineers to understand and decide how best to resolve the repair prior to the appointment.
You wanted more information about how to get involved with helping drive through improvements in the service.
We have established a Service Improvement Board involving service users, carers and family members. These meetings are held quarterly and play a pivotal role in monitoring progress against the service improvement plans and driving further improvements. In addition to the Complaints, Concerns and Compliments Steering Group, service users are being involved in task and finish groups for Personal Wheelchair Budgets and the Eligibility Criteria.
We welcome more service users getting involved so if you are interested please let us know by emailing the Wheelchair Service directly or Thanet CCG on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.