In a busy world where a lot feels out of our hands, we can control how we talk to each other

Making a strong safety culture a reality

From all that we have seen and learnt so far, it’s clear that people working in healthcare are finding it increasingly difficult to take the time to simply stop and come together to talk. When conversations do happen, these are often rushed, with many people struggling to be heard in the face of the many pressures they are confronted with.

We believe that this is affecting the safety of patient care and
undermining our members’ efforts to improve it.

You only have to take a glance at the incidents that get reported or listen to stories from both patients and staff to see that we all pay the price of failed conversations.

In a busy world where a lot feels out of our hands, we can control how we talk to each other. We can talk to each other in a way that helps people experience, for that moment, the kinder attitudes, values and behaviours that are necessary for the right safety culture to grow and flourish.

A culture where people are respected for their views and the diversity they bring to a conversation, no matter who they are. Through these conversations we create connections, develop relationships, and provide opportunities to learn and change.

We need a way of talking that helps forge these positive relationships and is relevant to anywhere within and around the NHS.

Speaking to each other with kindness is the foundation on which this can be built.

It allows space for a shift from the old era of Safety I to the new era of Safety II.

We’ve learned that how we frame patient safety matters. Changing that framing can alter our perception of it. And if we can change our perception of it, then we start to take a much broader view which includes the good things as well as the bad, and moves from being a project to our everyday actions.

The right conversation can help:

  • Build a safety culture
  • Build positive relationships and team working
  • Develop peoples’ skills in speaking up, listening, questioning, responding and taking action
  • Leaders to listen more than they tell
  • People reflect
  • With planning and implementation
  • Raise awareness of safety issues
  • Increase trust
  • Devolve decision making
  • Learn from excellence
  • Reward and recognise positive contributions

10 way in which helping people talk to each other could improve our world:

  1. Allows people to speak up when we lack the time to focus on safety
  2. Stops people feeling silenced, less vulnerable, and better able to share their concerns, their feelings and even their good ideas
  3. Helps us learn more about how we could change our current approach to patient safety
  4. Provides a way of learning differently
  5. Helps us focus on the vast majority of times things go right and to celebrate those
  6. Helps build trust so that people can make decisions and feel they can make a difference
  7. In ever changing teams, helps people forge stronger relationships
  8. Joins up safety work in separate clinical areas and across communities by sharing what is being learned and discovered
  9. Allows us to find out what could be stopped to free up time
  10. Creates a sense of togetherness, a common cause and a shared purpose