What makes a good response?

Responding to postings on Patient Opinion - especially critical ones - is not easy. It often takes some thought and, like everything, we all improve with practice

Read this for some practical guidance on how to put up a response.

Here are some ideas, with examples from other subscribers, of what we think helps make a good response.

Empathy and understanding

Showing you care about someone's experience - good or bad - is at the heart of all health care. The web is an informal place, and your responses can be too. Try using 'I' rather than 'we' and adding the occasional real name makes your responses more human and web-friendly. Some people have just the right tone:

Apologising

Sometimes, apologising for a poor experience is just the right thing to do, even if you're not sure "who's to blame":

Explaining what normally happens or why things happen

It might help to explain what normally happens or why things happen in a certain way - to help everyone better understand your organisational processes.

Saying what you will do with the feedback

Whether it's as simple as talking to staff about the feedback, right through to changing the way you do things - this is your chance to let everyone know what you do with feedback.

Saying what you will do to make an improvement

It's often best to focus on what are you going to do and how this will help inform service improvements, than on why it happened. This is a great opportunity to tell the world what you've done as a caring, responsive organisation.

Giving a short response followed by a fuller one

It might be hard to post a full response without some time to find out more about the issue. It is fine to post a "holding response" followed by another later:

Giving options for what the author could do next

Sometimes issues can't be resolved online. Your response can guide what they should do next, by suggesting they contact a named person, go back to the service, or contact their GP.

Linking to other sites

Don't forget that it's very easy to embed links to other information and resources - for example, your PALS email, a link to Board/Trust policy documents, details of the local IASS, the local LINk to show you listen to them too, or a patient/service user organisation like Diabetes UK or SAMH.