Staff inspired to “make families count” after training to improve practice and engagement

Jan Sunman presenting

On 13 May 2019 the first of two “Making Families Count” training events was held by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to help staff work more compassionately and effectively with families whose loved ones have died or been seriously hurt while under the Trust’s care.

Getting family engagement right, from the beginning, is key to ensuring NHS organisations learn from their mistakes, making sure they are never repeated, and save grieving families and staff from going through the ordeal of court action.

The day also included lively group discussions, and tips and suggestions on what to do and say and what not to do or say, if you want to keep families positively engaged in the process.

Staff at the event – which was held at Trinity Park in Ipswich will be held again in Norwich in November – were also given an opportunity to consider the barriers to engaging compassionately with families during investigations, and some practical ways to overcome those barriers.

Two of the presentations that staff later said they found particularly helpful were the ones on “Duty of Candour” working with issues of patient confidentiality.

Len Hodkin, Director of Making Families Count, said: “We were delighted to be invited along to present this training. It really proves how committed NSFT is to engaging compassionately with families facing what is likely to be one of the worst times of their lives”.

And it was encouraging to see how keen staff were to learn from the course and do their best for families at the most tragic of times. Staff were also asked to offer feedback about how Trust policies and procedures could empower them to improve family engagement.

Saranna Burgess, the Trust’s Head of Patient Safety and Safeguarding, said: “I believe that everyone gained a great deal from attending this training, both personally and professionally, and what we have learned will play a role in the development of how we engage with families in future, to ensure that they feel fully part of the process and we can learn as much as possible from what happened.”

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