25th June 2024

University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) staff member Matthew Areskog is braving a skydive on Sunday 21st July. We caught up with the Head of Experience of Care and Inclusion to find out more…

MatthewTell us more about your role at UHBW

I joined the trust in November 2020, which was the first week of the second lockdown during the pandemic. So an interesting time to join one of the biggest, busiest acute trusts in the country! My role at UHBW is Head of Experience of Care and Inclusion, and there are three or four parts to that role.

Firstly, we run the Trust's volunteer programme. We've currently got 250 volunteers and growing.

My team is also responsible for the structures and the processes that relate to the ways in which we understand and collect feedback. So understanding different people's experiences of our health services, including patients, carers, families, young people, communities, and then using that information to help understand what we're doing well and what could be improved. Within that, there’s lots around patient and public involvement, so that could be anything from a focus group with people to find out more about their views, right through to designing services together with people.

Then the final part is the work that we do around tackling health inequalities. So, for those communities that may be experiencing access barriers, or there are challenges and disparities in terms of their experience, safety or outcomes.

The main purpose my team has in the Trust is about bringing the patient and community voice into the way that the organisation works and really valuing their voice.

I feel quite fortunate in that the field of patient experience is so relatable. Most of us have had direct experience of the health service or have family members and friends that do. So it's really easy to have conversations about experience of care.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The volunteering, which I describe as the “joy” part of my role. It's something really beautiful, people giving us their time for free. I just love everything about volunteering. We know it's one of the ways to wellbeing in terms of what it gives the volunteers themselves, but it's a huge benefit for our patients and staff.

We’ve also just released our new Experience of Care Strategy – ‘My Hospitals Know and Understands Me’. I think the strategy (which we co-designed with communities) works really well because we've brought together 20 leaders from across the Trust, across the life course areas from birth through to end of life, and across the patient pathway to get them on board with really focussing on what matters most to people. That part of my work I love, in terms of trying to motivate and encourage and hopefully inspire people to get behind work around patient experience.

Why have you signed up to do a skydive?

My friend from the age of 18 and I both turned 40 in the last year. I was on a visit to see her and her twins and she mentioned in passing that she's going to do a skydive, would I do one and I said yes, not thinking it would go anywhere. Then she messaged me to say that she's booked it, and that I need to do the same. So that's why I've booked it! And if I'm going to jump out of a plane from 15,000 foot, I'm going to do it for charity. 

What are you looking forward to about the skydive?

The people that have done it have said it's a really exhilarating experience. It's something to really remember. I'm looking forward to seeing what Earth looks like from 15,000 foot and just having that perspective because it's fairly unique.

Anything you’re not looking forward to?

I think I’ll get quite nervous on the journey up. I don't mind flying, but I think the point when I'm actually in the plane and it's happening, I think will be nervous. And also I might have to think about what I'm doing during landing.

Do you have much experience of the work Bristol & Weston Hospital charity do at the Trust? And is that driving your fundraising?

I think more and more. Over the last few years, I’ve got more of an understanding about what the charity are doing in terms of fundraising and how that fundraising is being funnelled and directed to impact on patient care.

It’s about those different projects that are going to have the greatest impact. The one that really springs to mind at the moment is the partnership with the charity Alive and supporting people with dementia. Actually supporting people with dementia to come into a garden setting and to have something that takes their mind off being in a ward environment.. It’s an anxious time for anybody, but particularly somebody with perhaps a cognitive impairment.

I think there's something really amazing about that. And it’s amazing that the hospital charity has developed partnerships with organisations and charities locally to make that happen. I think that's really special.

I could have picked any charity but there’s something amazing about the charity supporting so many different projects for so many different people in our communities. I have every confidence that the money I raise will go and have a big impact. Choosing to fundraise for Bristol & Weston Hospitals Charity felt like a bit of a no brainer!"

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