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Resident Voice

Social connections

Resident Voice

Musing about the different ways of capturing resident voice.

Age Concern and I facilitated some focus groups in connection with the Age Friendly Carlton initiative. And an external consultant facilitated some focus groups for Gedling Borough Council’s Health and Wellbeing strategy
What worked well
• Using existing groups to talk to:
o they felt more comfortable chatting as they knew others in the room;
o easy to set up as we held the groups after existing sessions so no need to book an extra room or send out communications inviting people to attend
• An external consultant facilitating the group – experienced facilitator, nudging the conversation along, structured format but letting the conversation flow, listening more than speaking

What didn’t work so well
• As the groups had already done their activity, they didn’t all want to stay for too long afterwards and if their attention wasn’t grabbed by the facilitator they tended to drift off

At the end of each of my weekly exercise sessions we have a 30 minute social session – I hear a lot about what’s concerning residents, what’s good, what’s not so good, their suggestions for improvements. We also cover this informally during the weekly running sessions. And I hang out at community venues and just listen – the Veterans Breakfast Club; the Friendship Club, Age Concern café etc
What works well
• No structure, the conversations just evolve, sometimes I nudge them along but mainly I just listen
• As we meet weekly the relationships have developed over time – people feel free to share their concerns and points of view. It’s a comfortable situation.
• I hear a lot , every week. No formal arrangements need to be made

And what do I hear?
• Local residents feel that the local shops (chain and independent) are friendly, welcoming and helpful; the bus drivers are helpful and patient. But the pavements and roads are shockingly maintained – uneven paving slabs, huge and numerous potholes, big kerbs which are very tricky if you’re pushing a rollator or in a wheelchair. The one way system at the back of the Iceland/Tesco Metro is difficult to navigate, the car park is poorly maintained – a lot of rubbish lying around. The timing at traffic crossings are too short
• While some residents are marching off to have their booster jabs – others are now concerned about it – hearing horror stories of people reacting to the jabs
• Incredibly difficult to get to see a GP in person, communication between hospitals and GPs not joined up in terms of following up on prescriptions; no chance of getting an ambulance even if you’ve fallen or very ill. And if you do make it into the hospital it’s like a war zone – so many people, waiting in corridors, on trolleys, being moved around
• BUT once being looked after in the hospital, I’m hearing people praise the professionalism of the staff.
• People prefer wristband lifeline alarms to pendant ones.
• Lots of news about different activities in the area. And my super connectors bring info such as the NHS app leaflet, Age UK Notts energy conservation chats, local funding opportunities, Easylink accessible transport
• A lot of people reluctant to do online banking – scared of being scammed, can’t use modern technology, don’t have mobile phones or if they have them don’t really use them. NB Not everyone is like this – more people are starting to use them now.
• Anxiety about the emergency call on 23 April – some people aware of it, others completely unaware, people unsure as to what to do when the alarm comes.
• People love coming to classes/social events for the company. Many remarks about how lonely they were before, how people stop visiting when you get older. And I have to say that many of my participants who live on their own or who have dementia are coming earlier and earlier to the classes so they have someone to talk to and I’m finding that their partners are bringing them earlier so that they can have more time to themselves!
• People like sharing – one man brought a fold up mobility scooter to show another this week – his wife who is really unsteady and struggles with concentration after a stroke, jumped on it and scooted round the room quite happily.
• People are asking about how to use their phone, hearing aids, smart watch etc