Equality and involvement excellence... Winner - ‘One voice – the improving empowerment and inclusion project’ in Newton Lodge

By Sue Mitchell, Newton Lodge

The ‘One voice’ group provides service users at Newton Lodge with a forum where issues 
and concerns can be heard and addressed. The monthly group is organised and facilitated by 
occupational therapy, nursing and social work staff, and meetings are led and chaired by service users. In the group, service user representatives and staff explore key areas of good practice and areas for improvement. Attendees show great dedication to ensuring that service users feel empowered and listened to at times when they feel restricted/frustrated. ‘One voice’ is a perfect example of how things can be improved, giving service users the opportunity to be seen, heard, and listened to.

One Voice is the Newton Lodge Service User Dialogue Group

The One Voice group is a place where the service users get a chance to discuss all issues that they want addressing by staff and management to help improve the service and their experience/time at Newton Lodge. The meetings run every month and are attended by the ward representatives, some of the OT and ward staff, some ward managers, Clinical service manager, some social workers and staff from the Yorkshire and Humber Network.

Each ward has their own ward community meetings where they discuss any issues that need taking to the wider group; these issues are then taken to the One Voice meeting via the ward representatives.

The One Voice group will then discuss the issues raised and help come up with solutions or action plans for resolving them. There will often be a theme of common issues across all wards; the main three of these will then be taken to the Medium Secure Management Team meetings (MSMT). The chair of the One voice meeting will be asked to verbalise the issues at the MSMT, the management team are then tasked with trying to resolve these issues on behalf of the service users. The outcomes are then fed back to the One voice group via Clinical managers or OT lead during the monthly meetings. Sometimes, the senior managers are invited to One voice to feed back in person.

The One voice group has been running for several years at Newton Lodge and has successfully rectified many problems and also managed to acquire items requested through this forum too.

During the Covid pandemic One Voice had to be initially put on hold, but as things improved, the meetings were reintroduced via electronic Teams meetings.

Although this was not the ideal situation, it did at least give service users their opportunity to regain a forum to collectively raise their issues. Since Covid, One Voice has had a new energy and is well attended across the service. It follows a set agenda and minutes are taken during the meeting; the minutes are then circulated to the rest of the unit to keep everyone informed of what is happening throughout the service.

Each meeting’s agenda includes: Introductions, Guest speakers, Feedback from MSMT, Yorkshire and Humber Involvement Network, Community feedback, Points to take to MSMT, Points for security meeting (if any), Any Other Business and Dates for your diaries.

Some of the positive outcomes since the Covid pandemic have included:

  • Re-opening all the therapy kitchens for service users     
  • Regained access to the gym  
  • Badminton was re-introduced
  • Football was finally re-introduced; We now have a football team who recently participated in a tournament resulting in a win for Newton Lodge!
  • IT accessibility has improved as more staff are now IT trained. All staff can now obtain their training during induction
  • Service users requested a chess club, this now runs weekly
  • Meals were regularly a disappointing issue for service users, so a quarterly catering meeting was set up. The catering department and our ward orderly supervisors come into the building to speak directly with the Service users. Service users have since noted some improvements to the menu.
  • We have a hairdresser back in service on a regular basis; management are continuing work on improving the type of service that can be provided.
  • When we became a No Smoking trust, E-cigs were brought in for service users to buy. Management are looking at a better type of e-cig at the request of service users.

Representatives from the Yorkshire and Humber Involvement Network regularly attend the One voice meeting, we work with them on a number of projects. We also attend their annual events, and it is our One voice reps who usually get involved with these.

At Wellyfest last year Newton Lodge Won the competition…

With a song ‘Perfect day’, the prize was £100.

Newton Lodge are going to have their own Mini awards ceremony.

The award will be presented to the group by Darryl Thompson from the Trust board, and a buffet lunch will be provided.

All the One Voice Reps will be invited to attend the event.

Thank you for reading Sue…