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New strategy to ensure vital voices are heard

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) has underlined its commitment to placing service users and carers at the heart of everything it does after launching a new strategy which makes it clearer how their voices will be heard.

Called 'Improving Services Together', the Trust’s new Service User and Carer Strategy was officially launched at its annual general meeting on 8 October in time to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October.

Drawn up in partnership with service users and carers, it brings together six commitments designed to ensure people can have a say in the way services are developed. Its aim is to ensure the same standards of excellence are in place across all of its services and localities

“We are committed to placing our service users and carers at the heart of our decision making processes,” said Gary Page, Trust Chair. “That is why this new strategy is so important.

“Previously, we had two separate strategies in place – one for engaging with service users and a second for carers. This document combines and updates those strategies while also showing how our pledges will be scrutinised so that we can make sure we are delivering on our promises.

“We were delighted to officially launch the strategy at our AGM and hope it will play a significant role in further improving the experience which everyone has when accessing the care we provide.”

Gary went on to describe how every member of the Board and every staff member would know that embedding the principles of the strategy was their job.

“This is not something we are just going to leave sitting on a shelf and say ‘job done’. Each of us will be responsible for properly embedding this into our everyday practice. Other Trust strategies will be aligned to ensure they reflect and support the key actions and initiatives of engaging with service users and carers,” he added.

Chris Curry, who has spent the last 15 years caring for her son, helped develop the strategy along with other carers and service users.

She said: “This strategy will formalise and strengthen areas of existing good practice while ensuring those same standards of excellence for engaging with service users and carers are replicated across all of the Trust’s services and localities.

“It also provides a way of measuring how well the Trust is performing when it comes to service user and carer involvement, which is vitally important.

“What excites me about this strategy is that it feels we are pushing at an open door – everybody has signed up to it, which is really positive.”

The six commitments included within the strategy are:

1. Service users and carers will be able to have their say in Trust business

2. There will be opportunities for service users and carers to use their skills and experiences to improve services

3. We are changing the way we provide our services in line with our commitment to organisational change

4. We will strengthen links and create partnerships with other agencies and service user and carer-led organisations

5. We will reach out to diverse and other under-represented groups

6. Service users and carers will ‘judge’ whether this strategy is being delivered​