This time last week I was at the Patient Safety Congress in Manchester.  I had an excellent time and met so many interesting and impressive people.  It was also an opportunity to do a lot of networking (which is always so valuable) and meet up with people I’ve worked with in the past and now seldom see.

It was an impressive event.  Really well run, really well organised and incredibly well attended.  There were over 1000 participants and almost 450 delegates, presenters and speakers. Over 2 days I went to a hugely varied number of presentations and talks and while some of them were really inspiring, I didn’t always make the right choices (so many to choose from!) but these were vastly overshadowed by the memorable and inspiring talks I attended.

As part of the opening presentation, which was for the full house of 1000 plus participants, we heard “Nicholas’ story: Listening to patients and families is vital in delivering safe care”.  This was the tragic and extremely moving story of Sue Jones and her son Nicholas, who died a needless and preventable death far too soon.  I don’t think anyone in the room will ever forget Nicholas’ story or the film which Sue shared with us at the end.  A series of simple, beautifully haunting happy family photos over which played the song “True Colours”.  Diagnostic overshadowing lead catastrophically to the death of this young man who happened to have disabilities. Sue and her family were treated abominably, shamefully during Nicholas’ treatment and after.

Without doubt this presentation would have been one of the hardest jobs for Congress organiser Shaun Lintern, who had to stand in for Sue Jones as she was in hospital.  Sue was devastated not to be delivering this presentation herself but at that very moment she was still in intensive care, and so Shaun had to deputise for her.  He did her proud.  He read her presentation and we all felt the emotion and power in the words that Sue shared with us.

I left that room feeling more inspired to do the work of Making Families Count than I have in a long time.

Just a couple of hours later I attended the panel presentation “How to make a just culture work”.  This was a very well attended event and the first NHS speaker was Matt Walsh, the Patient Safety Lead for Pennine Care Foundation Trust.  One of the reasons I’d chosen to attend this presentation was because he was speaking and Pennine Care was a Trust where we’d run a training event some years previously.  I was interested to know if our work had made any difference to them. What I didn’t know in advance was that Matt Walsh was planning to feature the work of Making Families Count front and centre of his presentation!

He began by explaining that “The training event with Making Families Count was the catalyst for change and transformation at Pennine Trust” and that everything they’d achieved was kick-started by our training.   His presentation featured a large slide behind him as he spoke, highlighting our involvement at the Trust.  He went onto say that now, as a direct result of our training, they involve families from the very beginning of a Serious Incident Investigation, including families co-writing the Terms of Reference.

This was gratifying to hear and it made me feel very proud but as I had absolutely no idea that he was going to do this, or even mention Making Families Count in his presentation, I was also in a state of shock!  At the end of the presentation I shook his hand and thanked him.  He told me that no thanks from me were necessary and it was the Pennine Trust who thanked Making Families Count “without you, we just wouldn’t be where we are now”.

His presentation enabled Making Families Count to make an impression on the room, but his presentation certainly made an impression on me and I came away at the end of the Congress filled with inspiration and determination to take our message to even more Trusts, to be the catalyst for more transformational change with as many healthcare providers as possible.

Plus the sun shone warmly on us every day, which I hear for Manchester, is unusual!

You can see more of Making Families Count at the Patient Safety Congress on Twitter and see some of the photos from the event: https://twitter.com/m_f_count