Atrainability Blog

Here we share some thoughts, insights and ideas related to Human Factors Training

Trevor is a specialist in human factors teamwork training since its introduction in commercial aviation in 1990. Since 2002 when he formed Atrainability he has been working extensively in healthcare, with extensive experience in training and coaching clinical teams in a multitude of operating theatres across the UK in NHS and private hospitals.

Trevor enjoyed a full career as a pilot with British Airways, retiring as a senior Training Captain flying Boeing 747 aircraft in 2005. By then he had been a trainer in classroom, simulator and aircraft for over 12 years. In this time he had extensive experience in facilitating learning and with a small team developed a range of innovative train the trainer courses that have gone on the become mandated internationally in commercial aviation. It is these skills which have been widely recognised in healthcare and have been utilised in courses for such as the Royal College of Surgeons and a variety of research programmes conducted with teams at the RCS and the University of Oxford.

As a result of these he was approached to tender successfully for the development and design of the Productive Operating Theatre teamworking modules for the NHS Institute. His experience across healthcare is wide and far-reaching, including a specialty in Surgery, Radiology as well as Primary Care, Emergency Care, Critical Care, Mental Health and Secondary Care.

He is widely sought as a conference speaker internationally on the subject of human factors training in healthcare. Trevor is an active member of Lions Clubs for over 30 years and has been President of his local club twice.

A Situational Violation



Picture yourself in this situation; you're an Anaesthetist who has been called to attend to a patient who needs an emergency C-section. There's a small window to act fast and save the baby, but you notice that the patient isn't wearing an identity wristband. Would you anaesthetise?



Before we go any further, consider this similar situation before making a decision on what your course of action would be. Again, a real-life story that we've been made aware of recently. 

A small boy and his mother are rushed into a busy A&E department at an NHS Trust, the boy having been mauled by a dog. The child is quickly referred to the Trauma Team and there is no doubt that they have the right child; he's covered in blood, bite marks, screaming and the mother is upset as you'd expect. They do what needs to be done, they do their jobs, clean wounds and patch him up. Afterwards, they find out he's got the wrong wristband on. 

The hospital decides to deal with this error with disciplinary action against the Clinicians. 

Take a step back and you can see how a small mistake like this can occur. A busy department, a small boy screaming, arms flailing about…he requires urgent medical attention and it's clear what he needs; but why go straight to disciplinary action, and if not a disciplinary then how should it be dealt with? 

Treating individuals of any specialty, nursing or clinician like responsible professionals is almost guaranteed to have a much better outcome. This incident should have been approached as something to learn from, a discussion point. A team conversation in which this error is highlighted and shared. An opportunity for staff to explore all the circumstances which led to the name check being missed, to think about the likelihood that this could happen again, and then if necessary, think about steps that can reasonably be taken to avoid a repetition of this error. 

Using a risk matrix can help differentiate between low frequency events with very serious untoward outcomes and those with much less serious outcomes. And of course, the risk of not taking action must also be assessed to give a balanced perspective.


Let's think again about the mother who needed an emergency C-section. 

On this occasion, the Anaesthetist refused to anaesthetise the patient because of the missing wristband, which lead to a ten minute delay while they got a wristband on her. The result of this, was that the precious opportunity to get the baby out safe was missed. The child is now permanently brain damaged. 

The easy thing to do is blame the Anaesthetist. He or she could have acted differently, taken a risk, broken a rule to act fast and then justified his/her actions later. Or perhaps the finger of blame points at the nurse or doctor who was responsible for making sure the patient had a wristband on? 


Of course, there's other elements to muddy the waters. 

What does this individual normally do? Flout rules or routinely demonstrate good practice? Do they have previous history which led to this particular decision? Were they previously involved in, or even just exposed, to a patient misidentification that resulted in serious harm? 

Patient misidentification is known to contribute to errors and is a cause of patient safety incidents; including operating on the wrong patient, or performing the wrong procedure, or performing surgery / an intervention on the wrong body part (e.g., right vs. left knee replacement operation). 


So what's the answer here? 

It's a tragic story and an upsetting, ongoing experience for all involved. We feel however that it highlights how easy it is for leaders to unintentionally get it wrong and in doing so, stopping professionals from getting it right. 

One major factor in high risk decision making has to be whether your front line team feel safe and supported. Now, what that means to us is that a management system needs to be set up and run in such a way that makes front line staff feel safe. This must be borne out in reality, as opposed to being implied and then not acted on when the time comes;


"Well of course you're safe with us, we operate a no-blame culture"


Saying it doesn't make it true. 


Did the Anaesthesist feel safe? 

If frontline staff feel they have to protect themselves first from disciplinary action or being struck off then that's how hospitals end up with staff who will refuse to do something that in hindsight would have been the "sensible" action. The sense of covering one's own back is a normal human reaction to a perceived threat and it is a clear signal that all is not well with the system. 

If individuals and teams feel safe and supported it will reduce stress and they will feel enabled and empowered to make better decisions. This not only means better care and outcomes for patients, but also builds trust and team morale. 


Join us for the our next Masterclass in London.

Atrainability are now working alongside Quality Improvement Clinic to offer a one-day Masterclass which combines Human Factors and QI Science which will be running on 25 June 2018 in London. Read more about the masterclass here or Register for the event here.

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Unintended Consequences

(Revised: 15.2.18)

In the wake of the tragic death of Jack Adcock and the conviction and subsequent striking off of Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, we need to work together to rebuild the damage done to the safety culture. How? Revenge and blame feel great don't they? But neither of these options offers a solution to stop repeated errors. It is easier to point the finger at an individual, rather than a flawed system.*

Martin Bromiley is a shining example in seeking no retribution in the aftermath of the death of his wife, Elaine. Instead, he has made it his life's mission to educate others. 


It should be highlighted is that the mitigated circumstances which often lead to a tragedy, are sadly not unique.

The abnormal, such as multi-tasking, staff shortages, no handovers, hierarchy barriers etc…eventually becomes normal practice. We want to help professionals in all status's and across all aspects of health and social care feel safe and encouraged to report and aid learning from the most basic of human conditions, fallibility. 

Time and time again you've probably been told that near misses (near hits?) and incidents are the richest source of learning. Yet we still find that these often go unnoticed in all fields, sometimes because they don't get reported. Or, as mentioned by some professionals we've spoken with recently; it's because "human factors" is stated as the cause of the error yet it's not adequately analysed, or learned from and the true underlying causes remain. Perhaps this is a side effect of the abnormal becoming normal? 


I appreciate that too much has been made of aviation as a model. 

But one thing I would argue is indisputable is that the way the culture changed was by embedding human factors ergonomics principles in every single thing, from training through to all processes. My own son, flying now for a major international airline simply says "it's just the way we do it!" – but it took time to get to that stage. 

The term Human Factors is certainly more heard of and understood in healthcare than it was when we started fifteen years ago; but a one-off Human Factors course as part of a knee-jerk reaction or tick box exercise will not make sustainable changes.


It's one thing to say you know about Human Factors – but what actions are you taking? 

We're currently delivering long term training solutions with coaching and ongoing support to a number of NHS and private providers. Train the Champion and Train the Trainer as well as foundation awareness are helping to kick start that embedding process. It is terrific to see how general awareness is growing! 


But it's not all about error. 

It's important that teams understand why things "go right" too and how to repeat that. One organisation we've just tendered for are rated 'Good' across the board by the CQC, but they want to achieve 'Outstanding'. That's the way to go.

Please get in touch and let's see how we can help your teams. 


PS. *The British Medical Association has just launched an online space allowing doctors to report their experiences and examples of how the system is preventing them from providing safe care. https://r1.dotmailer-surveys.com/00jvxef-a92tly1f


- - - - - - - - - - -

An apology regarding the earlier version of this blog piece sent out via e-mail on 15 Feb 2018:

We at Atrainability regret that we have passed on some mis-information in the earlier version of this blog piece, distrbuted via our e-newsletter on 15 Feb 2018.

Prof Terence Stephenson, Chair of the GMC made a statement on 2 Feb 2018 that in fact the e-portfolio reflective statement was NOT used as evidence against Dr Bawa-Garba. The GMC have clarified that the details reported in this case were not accurate.

Thank you to those of you who took the time to inform us about our error. We have amended the above post and resent out a revised copy of the e-newsletter to reflect this. Despite this unfortunate error, we believe that the potential damage to the reporting culture is still tangible and valid based on our conversations with a number of Clinicians.

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A ZERO fatality year...

Once again we've heard comments that aviation and healthcare are radically different, the point being of course, that healthcare can't possibly transfer learning from an industry such as aviation. Well of course our industries are different, but it's not as simple as some people think.

We've heard this so many times. 

"Pilots would not get airborne with a plane that wasn't working properly, where as Doctors and Nurses are dealing with people who've had something go wrong" 

This misses the point. 

Most people don't realise that if something goes wrong in an airplane, rarely do you see it coming and the chances are we're already airborne. 

Aviation in the 21st century is incredibly safe, so much so that there is talk of a zero fatality year worldwide due to accidents, leaving aside deliberate acts. 

Extrapolating this it suggests that aviation is, as is often claimed, 99% boredom 1% sheer terror. Not strictly accurate, but mostly things do not go wrong, but what flight crew have to maintain is a wary eye for potential problems.If they occur…

The enemy here is complacency. 

Flight crew, like healthcare teams, have to be like the proverbial coiled spring, ready to react, safely and sensibly in times of extreme stress and with limited options. 

In a nutshell, where learning from aviation can be beneficial and transferrable to healthcare is via our techniques and methods for understanding human behaviour. Being able to be proactive rather reactive, be situationally aware as well as self-aware, understand how to communicate effectively to avoid misunderstanding. 

These skills when mastered, can create leaders and teams who can make better judgement calls, minimise risk and maximise safety. Knowing what we do about the effects of the amygdala and fight, flight and freeze, it is the ability to control your actions under extreme stress that we have to practice. 

Preparedness is crucial. 

Flight crew are trained to consider what could realistically ruin their, and you the passengers, day. One of the aviation techniques is to use periods of low activity, not to simply chat and pass the time of day, but to discuss with your colleagues and your team what they might consider to be a potential problem. When flying how would we handle a depressurisation or a hydraulic system failure. In healthcare something akin to a cardiac arrest or pranging a major blood vessel, or an unanticipated allergic reaction for instance. 

Alternatively a challenging aspect could be when you know you're going to be working with a difficult colleague, so you could discuss in advance how you will try to change the trajectory of incivility into a harmonious team outcome. 

Atrainability are able to provide tailored Human Factors support for teams that are in need of advice, support or development.

Further reading...

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Improvement Science for Better Outcomes

Atrainability have teamed up with The Quality Improvement Clinic and QIC Learn to create a one-day masterclass which will show you how Human Factors and Improvement Science can help you deliver better outcomes.

Small changes can effect big changes and we can equip you with the knowledge and confidence to take new ideas back to your setting.

What will I gain?

After taking part in this masterclass delegates will be able to:

• Be inspired to use human factors and improvement science to deliver better outcomes for their patient e.g. during transitions of care

• Understand Threat and Error Management - an essential concept in learning from error and success

• Understand and accept the causes of mistakes -how to maintain confidence in the high pressure workplace

• Know the early warning signs that things are not as they should be and what to do about them

• Understand and adopt effective communication -ensuring mutual understanding

This 1 day masterclass has been designed to give you an appreciation of Human Factors in the workplace and how it can help you deliver better care.

Through attending this course, you are becoming a change agent, leading the way to help make your patients and your ward safer with Human Factors.

We look forward to you joining us on Friday 23 March 2018.

​BOOKING NOW:

Human Factors Principles + Improvement Science = Better Outcomes


When: Friday 23 March 2018
Where: De Vere West One Conference Centre, London

JOIN US:
Click to find out more OR
Click to book online

. **Special Offers** 15% Group booking Discount or 10% Card Payment Discount
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Debriefing - The Holy Grail

Debriefing or feedback is a vital part of ensuring teams communicate effectively and learn from experiences. How good are we at giving and accepting praise and positive feedback?

An insight I've gained from working with and observing teams is how surprised individuals can be when given positive feedback. Also sometimes they have real difficulty accepting it and view it as patronising. But feedback is a gift and let's be honest we don't do it well. Most of us are swift to blame and slow to praise.

Perhaps it's that quintessential Britishness which hinders us thanking or complimenting a colleague's contribution or skill? We are a very multicultural society now and what richness that brings, so perhaps we can move forward.

Being praised for good performance not only raises morale but improves trust and performance within the team and beyond. It can benefit sickness rates and staff retention as it has in some of our clients.

I recently had the privilege of watching a series of Maternity deliveries by C-section. After introductions during one of the safety huddle at 8am, I explained I was hoping to observe and help them recognise what they've done well – and so it proved to be.

The team were not anticipating any particular problems, and although the first mother had a history of previous C-section deliveries, a scan had been conducted to check the position of the placenta.

Unfortunately, when accessing the uterus they encountered Placenta Previa, and along with the accompanying significant blood loss it was discovered that the baby had inhaled some of the fluid. Rather than a healthy cry, the baby omitted a half-choking squawk and instantly the body language of the team changed and the call was made for the paediatricians to attend urgently.

To cut a long story short, I can report that all was handled extremely well and the baby was quickly whisked off and the outcome was a healthy mother and child.

Afterwards I was asked by the team for feedback. After going into some non-clinical detail on how they'd handled a tricky situation really well I then encouraged them to provide some positive feedback to each other. It did not come naturally, but eventually the Registrar agreed that yes it did go very well. When asked if she could tell me why, she looked stunned and after some thought replied;

"The Scrub Nurse did a great job and I had everything in my hand before I barely asked for it."

With some gentle reassurance, The Registrar relayed her positive feedback to the Scrub Nurse directly.

After being told what a great job she'd done she beamed and said,

"Firstly I'm a midwife, not a scrub nurse. I am only doing this because the scrub nurse called in sick today, it's not my normal job."

I said "Well you've just had some great feedback!" She then added "When they pranged the placenta my heart sank and I thought we were going to have real problems but what held me together was how calm the two surgeons remained as they handled the situation successfully."

Soon, the rest of the team started opening up about their own worries and self-criticisms during the procedure, all which were met with empathy as well as positive and constructive feedback from their colleagues.

The senior midwife had been acting as team leader and in a circulating capacity. She thought she had left it too long before comforting the mother and father. I commented that it did seem like a long time, but the parents had looked relaxed and unconcerned. However the only people who could comment were the parents themselves. How about go and ask them? They were in fact fine.

Everyone now professed that they felt so much happier and confident. They all had a much better team understanding. Everyone was smiling and the atmosphere was positively buoyant.

So what's the moral of this story? You don't really need a trainer to tell you what you've done well, but you might need some help to get your team to a place where positive and constructive feedback become the norm.

We'd be delighted to help you.

Atrainability offer both in-house and Open Course training and coaching solutions. We'd be happy to have an informal chat (in confidence of course) to discuss your current challenges. Please get in touch and one of our team will get back to you

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A renewed focus on NatSSIPs

NatSSIPs - National Safety Standards for Invasive Procedures 


Many of our prospective clients often tell us that they are working successfully towards a safer culture, and yet never-events and avoidable harm do not appear to be diminishing on a National basis.* 

Let's look at NatSSIPs and LocSSIPs on which there is a renewed focus at this time. Otherwise known as the Five Steps to Safer Surgery. 

LocSSIPs is a topic that we have masses of experience in, helping Trusts develop their own best practice in briefing, checklist and debriefing . We are privileged to witness many excellent demonstrations using Natsipps techniques but sadly, we occasionally meet individuals who think they don't need such aids to safety. 

Very recently I was disappointed to witness a Clinician quite deliberately reading news reports on his Smartphone while a Safer Surgery Checklist was being read. Sadly his clinical colleague said nothing. Rest assured that the situation was rectified at the time. However this is still not unique, though happily rare. 

We have a responsibility to ensure the importance of NatSSIPs and the reasons behind its introduction are understood. In our view (and others) the use of checklists and safety techniques is not a personal option, but a mandate and a necessary core function of professional surgical performance. 

NatSSIPs is built around the aviation based concept of threat and error management. This came out of the original NASA funded research at the University of Texas under the late professor Bob Helmreich. 


Threat and Error Management is three steps: 

•AVOID – in an ideal world you would avoid everything that could possibly go wrong

TRAP - But of course you can't avoid everything in the real World. What you haven't been able to avoid you would wish to trap, in order to minimise any errors resulting in potential harm. 

•MITIGATE (read definition)- Finally, one needs to reduce the effects if harmful but to stretch the meaning of 'Mitigate' – to learn from failure and of course success. 


How does this work in practice? 

In healthcare, as in aviation, the 'AVOID' phase is accomplished by having a briefing (Handover or Safety Huddle) normally performed at the start of a working shift or day. This is where the team get together, share plans for what should happen, build situation awareness (Plan A) across the whole team and prepare themselves for what they hope won't happen (Plan B, plan C etc). 

'TRAP' - The 3 steps of the WHO Safer Surgery Checklist fulfil this role.The checklist serves as a memory aid to ensure all necessary safety issues have in fact been completed. Note – it is a Checklist - not a TICK LIST. It is completion of the actual CHECK that is crucial and not the ticking of a box! 

Finally, 'MITIGATION'. Debriefing sits here as a tool for learning not blame. In the case of a successful outcome debriefing is the opportunity to discuss what went well, why it went well and how we will try to ensure it goes well tomorrow and thereafter. 

In the event that it has not gone well, rather than resorting to blame and finger pointing; this step serves to investigate why and how something went awry. How and why well-intentioned, well-trained people have perhaps made an error, with a view to genuinely learning lessons and moving forward effectively for the whole team and ultimately the organisation and the profession. 

Duty of Candour sits here too and is of course a legal, professional and a compassionate necessity. 

After all, quite apart from the safety aspect, who gains the most respect? Someone who accepts and owns up to their own fallibility or someone who seeks to hide it? 

Atrainability would be delighted to assist you in implementing LocSSIPs for your teams, please get in touch to arrange an informal phone chat at your convenience. 


*Source: Never events data, click here

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Walking the Tightrope...

Self-Confidence is vital but Self-Awareness is Key to Learning Success.

Confidence is a vital commodity when it comes to delivering safe, effective performance in any job, sport or profession. One must have a degree of self-belief in order to fly a plane full of people, compete in sports or indeed perform medical treatment. However, a simple, basic facet of being human is that we are all fallible.


Are we aware of our response to our own errors?

Firstly, we have to realise that we have indeed made an error, because initially whatever action was taken was likely done with the expectation that it was correct. The dawning realisation that we have indeed committed an erroneous act can trigger a response, which could be fight, flight or freeze. Once confidence is damaged, it can manifest in a variety of ways. If we have a critical voice in our head, telling ourselves off; compounded by friends, family or colleagues also berating us, we can spiral downwards into depression. Often if we are unable to accept that we're responsible for a mistake we can respond defensively by directing our responses outwards;


                                                          "Why didn't YOU tell me!"

                                                         "Why didn't YOU stop me?"

                                                         "YOU didn't tell me…"


…in other words, if I can't accept my own fallibility it must be yours. This in some cases leads to arrogant behaviour, and does not make for safe, effective teams.

We as individuals need to work on our self-awareness, take responsibility and manage our responses, but we also need a team around us who don't continue the cycle of berating and instead supports and learns when mistakes are made.

How has aviation dealt with this? By embedding Human Factors principles at all levels from Board to the frontline.

The Board must walk the talk or any transformation program will fail, because it is perception at the individual level of the safety culture that is crucial to success.

Pre-1980's aviation training focussed purely on the technical skills of flying a plane. Effective communication, team-work, situation awareness – these were not considered important. However, with the improved use of black box recordings and analysis of significant aircraft accidents it became apparent that it was the human element that was mostly at fault. What is now known as – Human Factors.

How was it dealt with? By educating flight crew and then embedding effective human factors practice in ALL technical training. Although it took time, it is now completely accepted as part of the culture. Furthermore regular refresher training, feedback and assessment is given to flight crew on their flying skills and their interpersonal and cognitive skills to keep best practice at the forefront of their daily practice. In terms of appraisals these are taken very seriously.

If a pilot fails to meet the standards in either category of technical or non-technical skills he/she will be given further training and ultimately he/she can be removed from service. Just imagine if this took place to the same extent in healthcare and some other professions.

The fundamental point though is to understand error and the causes of error, and to accept them and to work with them. Humility is an essential part of professionalism. One of our clients (a large critical care unit in a major trauma centre) has recently contacted us to say how our training has had an impact on their team.

Furthermore we've been told that staff turnover has been reduced to a very low level indeed. These changes have been visible after in-depth Human Factors training and coaching, although they cannot be directly attributed of course.

Atrainability would be delighted to help any team or organisation delve further into their own short-comings and help to highlight their areas of success. Contact us for an informal, confidential discussion or alternatively enrol for our upcoming Open Courses listed here.
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ITV Tonight - Medical Blunders & other updates

ITV Tonight - Medical Blunders & other updates

Here at Atrainability, we're pleased to say it's been an eventful few weeks.

ITV Tonight: How Health & Social care can learn from Aviation.

I recorded an interview with ITV Tonight, Click here for Catch Up.or alternatively watch here. The programme is focused on Patient Safety and my suggestions were aimed at helping explain some of the elements that increase the chances of human error in health and social care. Part of the interview was filmed in-flight to demonstrate why checklists are a vital and completely accepted aspect of safety in aviation.

Fallibility is of course an inevitable, though sad facet of the Human Condition. Accepting that and helping to avoid, trap and/or mitigate error is fundamentally what we at Atrainability are concerned with. Although the programme focussed on the NHS, we would like to be clear that we know and understand that private providers make mistakes to. We'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject. Tweet #ITVTonight @atrainability or get in touch.

The Glasgow Emergency Surgery and Trauma Symposium

It was a great pleasure to be invited to take part actively in the 2017 Glasgow Emergency Surgery and Trauma Symposium where I gained so much valuable insight into complex post trauma care from some truly World-leading experts in both clinical and non-clinical skills. The latter involved Professor Rhona Flin from Aberdeen University. All the faculty were honoured, in my case by the award of Membership of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

Coaching and Mentoring in the Operating Theatre

Now we are helping an NHS Trust further develop their non-technical teamworking in association with their LocSSIPS, by coaching and mentoring in operating theatres.

One aspect of this has been debriefing a successful emergency C-section. On first asking "why did it go well?" the answer from one of the senior nurses was that it has "just worked well". However, so much more learning is available with careful encouragement.

In brief, the team had been widely scattered across a large area of the hospital when they received the 'Crash Call'. They clearly moved rapidly and had no time to lose. They didn't do a formal briefing but had in fact accomplished one which they set to work. They shared plans, updated Situation Awareness and allocated tasks to the appropriate team member. A good job achieved and a healthy baby delivered safely.

The work is continuing with debriefing and feedback on specific areas such as checklist design, development and implementation with guidance on how to maximise safety. Much effective work is being pointed out and reinforced as well as some corrective advice.

The Society of Radiographers - 'Putting Patient Safety First'

"When it comes to developing and changing a culture...simple changes can make things better." - Naomi Burden, Quality & Governance Radiographer at Royal Cornwall Hospitals. Atrainability are very proud to have helped progress Human Factors awareness in Radiography. Read the full article.

New Masterclass

We're now offering An Introduction to Coaching and Mentoring workshop which has been developed by Atrainability's Ben Tipney. More information will be available shortly on our website but if you'd like to find out more please contact us.

As always, we're happy to discuss any challenges you are currently facing or answer any questions you might have about our Human Factors training.

Trevor and the Atrainability Team.

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Where is the evidence that 'blame' works?

If so many medical people profess to be evidence based and blame is so rampant within health and social care where is the evidence that blame works?

Atrainability have just been asked to help a major NHS trust to sort out their blame culture which is proving very damaging to an already over-stressed, over-worked, under-resourced Emergency Department.

The atmosphere is apparently poisonous and learning from error consists of pointing the finger at a colleague who didn't do something appropriate. Learning from success isn't an option it seems simply because no one even considers it.

We believe strongly that explaining human fallibility is a crucial aspect of building an understanding and an awareness that most error is not caused by bad people but by genuine, hard-working, caring people, working under difficult conditions.

We ask the question – if we provide training for you, what would success look like?

One answer would be that team members started looking after themselves and each other. Although working conditions are typical of an over stressed department, the benefits of taking even short breaks to refresh, clear the mind and to replenish fluids and blood sugar levels cannot be overestimated. Furthermore, appreciating how knowledge-based, skill-based, rule-based errors originate is the route to an open reporting culture, where people feel safe both personally and collectively.

Other signs of success could be:

  • A team that shows compassion, not just to its patients but to each other.
  • A change in the flavour of incident reporting from finger-pointing to understanding, learning and providing solutions.

What would success look like for you?

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Compassion Costs Nothing?

Compassion Costs Nothing?

Compassion; to empathise for others, to show you care; what does this cost in psychological and emotional terms? 

At my great age I just fell into a trap at a conference of agreeing that compassion costs nothing. How could I do that? The emotional cost of true empathy (as opposed to simple 'passive' listening) can be huge. It can be draining for those in caring professions - constantly feeling compassion and empathy for service users, patients and relatives - it takes its toll. This may explain why front line teams sometimes seem so dispassionate. Would they really have entered into such professions if that was what they truly felt?

What could have happened?

Well when we say "physician heal thyself" we tend to think of the physiological; food, water, putting ones feet up – if you like, the most obvious, visible signs of wellness. But when we consider the emotional and psychological toll that caring for others exerts it is in fact, blindingly obvious. What are we doing to provide our front line workers with the awareness and tools to handle the inevitable stress that comes with caring for unwell people? Do we even encourage ourselves or others to 'tune in' to our own emotional state, let alone put strategies in place for our own well-being?

We neglect our psychological and emotional wellness at our peril.

Atrainability have developed training to help deal with all aspects of wellness and stress. We're always available for an informal, empathetic chat to discuss your specific needs. Click here to contact us today.


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