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Human Factors Courses for Foundation Doctors

The General Medical Council has reflected the importance of recognising Human Factors in the development of generic professional capabilities for post graduate medical curricula. 

The context for this is the GMC's core guidance for all doctors, good medical practice, which sets out what is expected of doctors including communication, partnership and working with patients. (National Quality Board Human Factors Concordat 2013) 

Many Deaneries have incorporated Atrainability's Human Factors modules in their curriculum, since 2012. The list is growing year by year and the repeat bookings speak for themselves. 


Atrainability are now taking bookings for Foundation Doctors Human Factors Training for the next academic year

Human Factors is strongly recommended to become a mandatory part of Medical Education and our courses match the Medical Leadership Competency Framework.

Focus points include: 

• how and why errors are made and practical tools to avoid and trap them 

• safe decision making during a stressful day 

• situation awareness - recognising the signs that things are going wrong and dealing with that situation 

• effective escalation - overcoming the barriers to open communication and shared understanding in a high workload environment 

• dealing with difficult people including, sadly, colleagues 


We have over 6 years' experience in delivering training aimed at the next generation of healthcare professionals in a manner that is tailored to their educational needs. 

The Human Factors behaviours related to safety are crucial both for the patient and also the professional confidence within the Doctor while they are in the most high risk part of their education. 

If you have already finalised training for 2018/2019, we'd be happy to discuss your training programme for the next academic year.

Some sample feedback from recent participants: 


"Outstanding course, incredibly useful" 


"This should be mandatory! Very interesting to learn how other industries such as aviation can apply to medicine" 


"Leadership & management is crucial but often overlooked in medical training. Clear, practical advice that I can start putting into practice now." 


"Useful to receive formal teaching in things that it seems we are expected to already be aware of e.g. challenging authority. Good presentation, kept engaged throughout." 


"Important concepts to reflect on, extremely useful to be exposed to this early on in our career" 


We would be happy to discuss your individual needs at your convenience. Please contact us here.

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Unprofessional behaviour in the workplace

The recent press reports of a 'toxic' atmosphere at St George's hospital in South London are distressing to say the least but unfortunately by no means isolated. 

Relations between colleagues in any profession can break down or face difficulties at times. However, healthcare professionals are often a keen focus for criticism in the media and so it's important not only to understand how to prevent unprofessional behaviour in the first place but also how to manage high-performing professionals into cooperative team-working when under pressure. 

In over 16 years of working with health and social care professionals across a wide spectrum of disciplines we have encountered far too many instances of uncivil behaviour sometimes directed at us and certainly at fellow team members. 

It is worthwhile mentioning that this applies at all levels and specialties and not as some apparently think, doctors alone. Currently we are working with organisations where problems exist within nursing bands. When trying to help teams understand the effects of uncivil behaviour we ask the following:


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HUMAN?      VS       WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PROFESSIONAL?


Here are sample answers, by no means exclusive:

Maintaining high standards of professional behaviour is a major challenge in any high-pressure working environment. We will sometimes fail to get it right because we can not avoid being human.


MAKING EXCUSES...

One clinician sought to excuse his colleagues inappropriate behaviour by saying the surgery (neuro) he performed was very complex, high risk and stressful and that stress had to be vented somewhere; and so in this way he justified the bullying his colleague dished out to theatre teams! 

Thankfully, this clinician always behaved impeccably with patients and relatives but there is no excuse for undue criticism or abuse of colleagues.

Why does he think it is an appropriate way to behave?

Does he realise the impact he has on staff feeling that they can speak up in the unlikely (we hope) event of some avoidable error?

How will the added stress of working with someone difficult effect the performance and focus of the rest of the team?

If you look again at the 'What makes a professional' image; what makes him believe that he is practicing in a 'professional' manner?

More importantly, how can he be helped to gain self awareness? Certainly not by people making excuses for his behaviour and certainly not by team members keeping their heads down.

MANAGING HUMANS

Everyone has what we refer to as their personal 'stress bucket'. 

So in dealing with 'difficult' people, especially as a manager or team leader it can be helpful to consider why they behave this way. 

Could they be ill or facing huge personal stress, having a personal crisis? Could they lack insight or skill? Could they believe it to be acceptable because that's what they experienced? Could it be my fault? Winding them up? Could they just be plain awkward? 

The first step is to recognise the 'human' elements, treat everyone as an equal with dignity and compassion and by that try to encourage the 'difficult' people into the same behaviour.​

// View our Walking the Tightrope Course here. //


This can be easier said than done, especially if you're not in a management position but one of those perhaps at the blunt end of the behaviour.

In those circumstances the simplest advice would be to reframe your response to this behaviour. For inappropriate behaviour such as bullying or intimidation, it is common for individuals to be singled out as the 'victim'. 

Therefore sticking together as a team is crucial. It is certain that you are not the only one who has noticed or feel uncomfortable with the behaviour. As a collective it's important to not allow yourselves to become victims but to stand together and respond professionally, politely but firmly. 

As a common example if someone refuses to follow a procedure (such a safety checklist, briefing etc) declaring it a waste of time or they know better etc. Together the team needs to take the stance "I'm afraid we will not be going forward with this until this is done." 

Regardless of your faith in reporting systems there should be one that enables you to get support from your management, but any reporting with regards to inappropriate behaviour must be evidence based.


REPEATED UNCIVIL BEHAVIOUR

The NHS is notorious for having a culture where professionals are treated effectively like children. If you treat people in such a manner don't be surprised if you get a child-like response.

However if you treat people in an adult manner, as equals, with respect and understanding it is more difficult for them to maintain an unprofessional behaviour pattern.

At the same time it should be made clear that continued unprofessional behaviour and bullying cannot and will not be tolerated. This comes under the heading of duty of care to the rest of the staff. A fundamental management responsibility.


However, we know of a current situation where after evidence of repeated uncivil behaviour, a formal interview was undertaken with an official warning on file.

The staff member has returned to work, but the manager suspects no behaviour change has taken place and is not getting any further evidence from other staff because presumably they feel that nothing has been done and therefore why waste time making reports?

A conundrum indeed because managers cannot publish confidential personal reports for obvious reasons. Here we believe having a cadre of Human Factors Champions in the workplace could help.

They could be the interface in the workplace and offer advice and support to both staff and management.

So we return to a Just Culture - one where genuine human error is treated with understanding but equally failure to follow standard procedure habitually and inappropriate behaviour towards others is simply not on.


Make an enquiry about creating Human Factor Champions in your team here.

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Human Factors & Patient Safety Updates (Aug 2018)

Free conference for NHS staff this November

We're proud to be speaking alongside Roy Lilley, Cara Charles-Barks (Salisbury NHS), Dr Mohammad Al-Ubaydli, Mark Coooke (NHS England SW) & Dr Felix Jackson at this free to attend event on 6 November in Exeter. 

The future is uncertain. With the dawn of technology, will healthcare staff be usurped by advanced apps & artificial intelligence? What leadership strategies are in place to help NHS staff cope with the Salisbury Novichok incidents? How will joint working & mergers affect staff? 

This event explores Collaborative Networking - The Future Of Healthcare. This free conference brings you speakers from a wide spectrum of specialties. We aim to inspire & teach NHS staff from all departments as well as patients on how to adapt to systems change in a way that brings about efficiency & value. Addressing two of the fundamental themes of Future Focused Finance.

Find out more here & don't forget to follow the event organisers @nhsFFF on Twitter

Fixing a System Under Pressure

Everyone seems to say now that they have a 'Learning Culture' - but what is your SOURCE of Learning? 

The British Medical Association has recently shared some of the footage from The Future Vision for the NHS workshop ran last month. On the day around 50 members from across different parts of the medical profession came together to contribute ideas, experiences and examples to help inform the BMA's work to press for change in the NHS.

Watch a selection of videos from the event here, including 'Fixing a System Under Pressure' a short presentation from Atrainability.


Excellent Feedback from Serious Hazards of Transfusion Conference


​We were recently sent the official feedback from the SHOT blood service conference we spoke at in July. 

This year saw record numbers of delegates, which could be partly attributable to having more international delegates from the IHN meeting. 

There were 270 online submissions for the evaluation survey, which was a response rate of 85.7% (the evaluation survey was sent to 315 individuals, excluding exhibitors). 

Trevor Dale spoke at the conference about Walking the Tightrope.

The feedback on the conference was exceptionally positive, and we were very happy to receive top scores on most informative and best performance of the speakers.


Who's tweeting Human Factors...

One to follow: #learnnotblame is the fantastic campaign lead by Dr Cicely Cunningham launched by The Doctors Association UK, we'll definitely be following and supporting her progress as she raises important issues that's relevant to Human Factors values.

That's our round up of the updates from us for now, please get in touch and let's see how we can help your teams.

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Human Factors and Patient Safety Updates





PATIENT SAFETY TEAM OF THE YEAR

The winners of the HSJ 2018 Patient Safety Awards have been revealed. Well done to everyone who was nominated, commended or won! In particular, we'd like to congratulate the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust Patient safety and risk team. Their team have been awarded the Patient Safety Team of the Year. 


"Integrating Human Factors principles into our safety investigations has been a key part of the changes we have made. An understanding of these concepts is key to learning and improving as an organisation when things go wrong. We started our Human Factors journey two years ago with Atrainability and their Train the Trainers course, and this gave us the knowledge and confidence to develop a systems based investigation process that moves away from blame, towards learning and ensures that the patient is at the heart of what we do." 

- Stephen Tipper, Human Factors Programme Manager

Since instituting a raft of measures over the last year the incident reporting rate at the organisation has increased from 31 to 44 incidents per thousand bed days – in the top 25 per cent nationally. There have also been improvements in staff survey responses on feeling secure when raising concerns.

We of course can not take credit for their achievement but we are proud to have played a small part of their wider plan to make sustainable changes to patient safety with the 5 day Train the Trainer sessions we ran with them two years ago.

Read more about their changes and award here.


TRAINING WITH THE TEAM AT UHNM

Last week we ran 2x two-day Human Factors Awareness workshops for adult and children intensive care teams at UHNM. The courses were presented by our Founder, Trevor Dale and one of our new team members, Rick Craft.

During one of the two-day sessions, our trainers had the pleasure of talking with Emma Biddulph, a Play Specialist who is featured in an article in The Guardian on 70 years of the NHS. Emma told us:

"I came not knowing what to expect, but I found this course really interesting and useful. I plan to start implementing human factors learning asap in my daily practice."

Emma Biddulph, a Play Specialist
We're happy to report that 100% of the staff said they would 'Reccomend this training to a Colleague' and 100% also told us that as a result of the training it was likely or very likely that they would be able to apply the learning to their practice. Enquire about Human Factors Awareness Course

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A systems thinking approach to error

Attending the Clinical Human Factors Group Open Seminar this year was a great pleasure in many respects, interacting with old friends and new. Learning about updates and gaps in my knowledge in all aspects of Human Factors, was so very valuable.

It was evident from the conference that systems thinking is the way forward and the overriding theme of the day was about looking at the bigger picture whilst ensuring we don't lose sight of the individual in the process, especially the patient. We lose sight of the individual at our peril, but more than that, the patient's peril.

When organisations want to identify specific areas to improve or show evidence that they have indeed achieved improvements, data is crucial. But data so often can mask the fact that we are of course dealing with real people.

Whilst 'live tweeting' at the conference about this very subject, a fellow tweeter commented:

And how very true that is; you need both the data combined with the human story to understand why change is needed, why something has gone wrong or particularly well and also to convince others to become advocates, sharing the learning and helping to implement what is required. 


We completely support the idea of systems thinking. One of the talks that I listened to with interest was focussed on Root Cause Analysis. They talked about one particular study and what they found was the Root Cause often came back as: 


                                                                                   "Process Not Followed". 


Now, that sounds like an easy answer, but firstly, that doesn't give much to work with. That's almost as bad as pointing your finger at someone and saying, "That person didn't do it right." More details are needed to understand what is going on.

Taking a systems approach to the 'Root Cause' would take into account the bigger picture and begin to investigate WHY it wasn't followed. 


Is it a training issue for the individual? 

Is there something wrong with the process which means it's very difficult for front line teams to do their job and adhere to the process?

Or, could it be the person is in the wrong job? 

Perhaps it's 'the process' and not the person that is the real Root Cause and it needs revisiting. 

It certainly seems to be the case with a number of Surgical Safety Checklists, where it looks like the checklist itself is not fit for purpose. 

We are currently working with an NHS Trust where the checklist is not fit for purpose. Investigating, observing and promoting open conversations with front line individuals is a good start for any organisation that wants to understand what they can do to make improvements. 

Overall there was a strong feeling of optimism at the Clinical Human Factors Group Seminar. There are, without a doubt, more people taking an interest in Human Factors in healthcare and there is also some truly excellent and insightful work on developing solutions to changing the Culture on this…even if, at the same time, it's apparent there are still some pockets of resistance.

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CQC - From 'Requires Improvement' to 'Outstanding'

Claire Hughes, Critical Care Matron

If you've been following us for a while you'll often see us mentioning in our blog that one of the many ways you can recognise a good team is the fact that team members will take the time to tell their colleagues when they've done something well.

On this subject then, we feel it's important to walk the talk and congratulate one of the Trusts we've been working with for a while, The Critical Care team at Royal Stoke University Hospital.

Following their previous Care Quality Commission inspection, the leadership team, with the support of the trust made the decision to embark on a transformation programme to address the issues that had been highlighted.

As a result the CQC rating of their Intensive/Critical Care unit has been changed from 'Requires Improvement' to 'Outstanding'. Read their report here


Implementing Human Factors training combined with support for a full transformation programme has helped make this possible.


Claire Hughes, Critical Care Matron at Royal Stoke writes:


"The Critical Care Team at University Hospital of North Midlands has invested greatly in Human Factors training with the aim to have 50% of all staff trained in this topic.

Our unit has undergone a Transformation Program to bridge identified gaps between the General Provision for Intensive Care (GPIC's) guidance against a former baseline position. Specific work was required to address incidents both local and intra hospital.

Trevor Dale was able to provide an excellent foundation training schedule to address the issue and instigate 'Human Factors' as a challenge and change culture for our unit.Staff who have attended the training course are fully complimentary of the skills attributes gained from the overall experience and scenario based learning.

It is already evident that Human Factors training is positively changing everyday practices and culture amongst the many staff on our very busy critical care unit.

A recent Major Incident highlighted how significant communication and human factors was, to ensure patient safety in this complex situation. For this, we thank you Trevor and the team"


This Critical Care unit is a great example of how having the support of the leadership team and Trust when it comes to implementing positive changes through training can make a difference.


By approaching learning as an ongoing journey of development and not a tick box exercise you can make improvements that are sustainable. So congratulations to all the hard work the team has put in towards making it happen.

It's been an absolute pleasure to be part of their improvements and we are looking forward to our continuing to work with them.



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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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HFE in Healthcare, Investigation and Education


We at Atrainability are proud to have been invited to sponsor the

Clinical Human Factors Group's upcoming Aberdeen Open Seminar on 23 May.


"We are honored to be supporting this event and pleased to be able to contribute towards the ongoing mission of the Clinical Human Factors Group" - Trevor Dale, Managing Director, Trevor is also planning to attend the event and he hopes to see you there.


Please find further details below:

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CHFG's next Open Seminar will take place in Aberdeen on the 23rd May 2018.


The Keynote speakers are:


• Keith Conradi, who will provide an update on the developing work of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB)

• Dr Paul Bowie from NHS Education for Scotland and Craig McIlhenny at NHS Forth Valley Scotland, talking about the new national multi-agency initiative on Human Factors in NHS Scotland.

Breakout session topics include:


Dr Karthryn Mearns - Safety culture - we can measure it, but can we manage it?

• Manoj Kumar - Safety reviews: bridging the gap between work as imagined and work as done

• Professor George Youngson - The impact of bullying and discrimination

• Dr Helen Vosper - Human Factors as a strategy for improving Medication Safety

• Dr Alastair Ross - The Functional Resource Analysis Method and how to develop a model of everyday work

• Professor Ron Mcleod - Bowtie analysis as an approach to the assessment of the risk in healthcare

• Dr John Rutherford and Dr David Macnair - Good practice in running Human Factors training in a district general hospital

• Dr Shelly Jeffcott - Pushing back on "the way we do things around here": What holds us back from integrating HF/E


This one day event will focus on Human Factors in healthcare and applications in investigation, clinical practice and education.


Register for the event here & View full programme 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


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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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You don't have to put up with it.

You don't have to put up with it.

We recently ran a successful Open Course in Birmingham and the mix of participants that attended all shared their Human Factors challenges; which included typical problems such as not cross-checking adequately and some good situation awareness stories.

The best part about our Open Courses is that we get a good combination of people attending; recently we've had a room of blood bank teams, Ophthalmic surgery teams, Junior Doctors and Occupational Therapists - to name a few! All from different healthcare providers; travelling to our classes, openly sharing their experiences without fear of judgement and leaving with new found confidence and solutions that they can implement as individuals and within their teams.

For us as trainers, it's always interesting to have open discussions about the difficulties different individuals and teams are facing, but the reason we keep doing this is because we can see the changes in people after our training. 

For some, it's in the class; we call this 'the light-bulb moment' (more on this here) and for others it's a few days later, when they get in touch to tell us they just avoided an error because of our training techniques or they've found their confidence in speaking up to the staff member they were having communication issues with.


You may find it comforting to know that there are always similarities in each story, which is how we know we can help you.

Typical problems include: communication issues, dealing with difficult behaviours, poor attitude, situational awareness, briefing and debriefing effectively, stress and time management, poor leadership, hierarchy barriers, lack of feedback and confidence. All amount to how to learn from inevitable errors and successes without unnecessary blame.


So whatever challenge you are facing, know that there is a solution. Don't keep putting up with it, talk to us today about our next Open Course.

There's still time to book a last minute space on our London Open Courses next week and we're also taking bookings for London in February 2016. You can book a space for either of these through our website here or alternatively email us or call Trevor on 01483 272987 and we can discuss how we can help you further.


We look forward to hearing from you.

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Who is the best person to train you – a colleague or an external ‘expert’?

Who is the best person to train you – a colleague or an external ‘expert’?

This is an interesting question and is of course quite complex with a multitude of variables to consider. If it is a purely technical or clinical matter then I believe another similarly qualified expert with knowledge of the issues and techniques is generally preferable. However I believe that when it comes to Human Factors (non-technical, non-clinical, non-medical) concepts there is an argument that says an outside 'fresh pair of eyes' can have a significant advantage.

I can understand why you may disagree with this statement. How can someone who hasn't done the job themselves possibly have any in depth understanding of the pressures, stresses and nuances of your decision making? How could they, an outsider, achieve that essential experience gained through days/weeks/ years of hard graft?

Let me confess that in my 'old' life as a pilot in a major airline, we chose to go down the 'peer' training route. However it must be said that I now believe this meant we had to learn the lessons from scratch and went down a few unhelpful blind alleys. One was failing to grasp, for some years, that describing technical and non-technical skills as being separate was erroneous and unhelpful. What woke me up was when one of our senior managers said "it was such a high-workload that we didn't have time for any of that 'Human Factors stuff'! This demonstrated a complete misunderstanding that human cognitive and social skills are present at all times and are an integral part of all performance as an individual and team member. It wasn't his fault, it was ours.

Fast forward 25 years later and Human Factors is completely embedded in aviation – ask my son who is 6 years into his commercial aviation career.

As peer instructors we also had to blend training and debriefing of Human Factors non-technical skills into our colleagues 'technical' training. This proved a hard obstacle. It is acknowledged that the optimum method of encouraging behaviour change is by facilitation – helping students and peers to find their own solutions. This style of facilitative training and coaching was alien to aviation 'instructors' who were used to telling people what to do and how to do it.With behaviour change this rarely works, consider interaction with teenagers!

People have got to want to make changes and have to truly understand how and why. Many instructors focus on the technical problem and/or focus on blame and this can mean they often struggle to see the underlying Human Factors issue beneath, such as communication, hierarchy, or overload.

Now we come all the way back to the advantages of an outsider expert. There is no in-house hierarchy barrier. The outsider expert doesn't know the technical, clinical, medical issues in depth and hence don't get confused, or distracted by them. Another advantage is that they also bring with them a wide diversity of experience from other health and social care provider sites and teams. Finally, an outsider expert can also easily observe and debrief on the human factors issues and ask those awkward but telling questions about team interaction which can help facilitate learning and positive change quicker.

Understanding the concepts, the routes to normal error making and the ways in which human factors training can and does genuinely improve all human behaviours is what we can help you achieve.

We'd like to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please let us know.

Trevor Dale

Tweet @atrainability

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How compassionate care can reduce mistakes.

One of the questions we ask on many of our courses is "who is in your team?"

It is always fascinating to see how long it is before someone mentions the patient or service user in amongst all the doctors, nurses, porters, ODP's, managers, HCA's, therapists, allied healthcare professionals etc.

On one memorable occasion with a roomful of a particular group of specialist surgeons (no clues) the mere suggestion that the patient could be part of the 'team' was like a grenade going off. "They are the task, how can they be part of the team?"

My next question was "Could the patient save you making a mistake?"

"Yes of course" came the reply.

It is obvious. If you treat people like a task, you might inhibit them speaking up and potentially stopping calamity happening – wrong leg etc (there's a clue!). Compassion, empathy and demonstrating a genuine interest of the patients main concerns will reduce stress and empower your patients to have their voices heard.

During our time working with the Medical Protection Society we learned that there is compelling evidence that the initial interaction between medical professional and patient affects the willingness to complain and sue if things subsequently go wrong. If they feel valued and listened to, they are more likely too forgive, and vice versa.

"Empowered patients can communicate changes and observations that can make a real difference in their medical care…many times patients are intimidated, or sometimes bewildered, by the medical world around them. Also, it can be hard to speak up if the doctor or nurse is perceived to be rushed and ready to move on to the next patient." - Elizabeth Cohen, CNN senior medical correspondent and author of The Empowered Patient

The book 'If Disney Ran Your Hospital: 9 1/2 Things You Would Do Differently' by Fred Lee also makes interesting reading. Describing staff at Disney theme parks as 'actors' is in fact exactly what we would expect a 'professional' healthcare worker to do. We all adopt a cloak of professionalism at work don't we? Well, clearly some do better than others, judging by the evidence about abusive and inappropriate behaviour we hear about."Patients judge their experience by the way they are treated as a person, not by the way they are treated for their disease."

It's also well acknowledged that patients recover quicker if they feel cared about. If bed blocking is as much of a problem as it is reported; then anything that can be done which helps patients to recover, have a positive experience and get home again fast, has got to be worked on.

Treating patients like numbers – "go check the BP on bed 5" is entirely different to "pop along to Mrs Smith in bed 5 and check her BP".

It's clear that many providers are becoming more aware of compassionate care, and implementing training to help staff achieve this. Many staff may feel that this is something they do every day naturally; caring for people after all, was perhaps one of the main reasons for choosing their profession, but it is easy to become complacent.

I was recently admitted to a private provider where everyone who came into my room started with "Hello my name is .." However it was quite clear that because every single person used exactly the same form of words it had all the sincerity of concrete. Why couldn't one of them at least say something like "Hi Mr Dale, I'm Bill .."

You can reduce error by treating your patients as part of the team. However it is important that compassion, empathy and a genuine interest come across as sincere.

We have developed "The Keys from Courtesy to Compassion" course which covers the aspects of helping staff deliver compassionate care on a regular basis and it is clear that some places would benefit from it.

Here is a testimonial from one of our recent clients:

"Atrainability was wonderful to work with. They took our needs for instilling 'Disney' values into healthcare, and they worked closely with us to develop and deliver an enjoyable training session for our senior midwifery leadership team. The team enjoyed the fresh concepts and attuning these to their daily practice." - Amy Maclean, Head of Patient Experience at Birmingham Women's NHS Foundation Trust

"Thank you for helping us…and giving us some really useful strategies to complete our journey and make our business all about people." – Helen Young, Director of Nursing & Midwifery at Birmingham Women's NHS Foundation Trust.

To enquire about this course, click here to contact us for further information.

Trevor

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