Young people who helped to assess the quality of sexual health services in west Leeds and the city centre by posing as ‘mystery shoppers’ have shared their findings with senior council and health officials.
Young people aged 15-18 from the Farsley Health and Wellbeing group took part in 44 mystery shops across seven young people’s sexual health services, last year.
The quality and detail of their findings now means the group have been commissioned to deliver a peer education training session to new recruits and help undertake a repeat ‘shop’ this summer.
A formal presentation of the mystery shop experience and their findings was delivered by members of the original group earlier this week, to key council and health officials including the head of commissioning in children’s services and youth services lead officer, as well as commissioners from NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds. Also in attendance to hear the presentation were colleagues from Leeds City Council’s children’s services, a member of the Youth Parliament and service providers.
Young people were trained to act as mystery shoppers assessing services including pharmacies, Contraceptive and Sexual Health clinics for under 25’s and C-Card sites providing a community based sexual health drop-in provision.
The sexual health mystery shops assessed areas including access and environment, confidentiality and consent, staff training, skills, attitudes and values.
The aim of the project was to enable young people to identify improvements to local sexual health services and to increase their involvement in decisions about their health.
All services that were assessed received feedback and were given the opportunity to speak directly to the young people involved. The detail, quality and consistency of the mystery shops and the recommendations made were such that significant improvements have been delivered in two key sexual health services as a result.
The group report that they enjoyed the experience and are keen to share and build on their learning.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, executive member responsible for health and wellbeing said:
"This project is a great example of the benefits of young people as partners in service improvement. The mystery shopping experience has helped look at how we support young people and how young people themselves can play an active role in shaping the support they receive.
“By involving young people it is hoped that services will reflect the needs of their peers so that in future people have greater confidence in using contraceptive services in the city. We want to thank all the young people who have taken part in the project, their feedback has been invaluable.”
One of the participants commented: “I found the challenge quite interesting and quite fun. If I was to do it again I would want a bigger list of clinics to go to so I could go to more”
Additional benefits have been the increased awareness and confidence in the availability, range and quality of local services amongst young people who use the services.
The completed ‘Mystery Shop report’, along with a description of the project will be submitted to the Young People Now awards at the end of June.
This project, supported by the Leeds City Council’s youth service, was funded by the NHS Airedale, Bradford & Leeds Sexual Health Team and commissioned by Leeds City Council children’s commissioning team.
What is mystery shopping?
A mystery shop is the use of individuals trained to experience and measure any customer service process, by acting as potential customers and reporting back on their experiences in a detailed and objective way. Mystery shopping explores the actual experience at a snapshot in time and records specific details of that particular experience. As such, it can be a powerful tool for service managers and help to highlight clear action points for improving service delivery.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713