Positive shift on the mind-set for Safety – How do we know we are making a difference?


I knew we were making a difference when I was no longer the ‘dreaded’ risk manager and became the lady who ‘does safety’ and now they say hello and call me Lynn!

There has been a significant change in the terminology and language on the ward since we started this project. Firstly, I was called a lady but, more importantly, there is much more talk about safety. In over twenty years of working in the NHS there have been very few occasions Of which I have been aware where there has been shift in mind-set that all the ward staff, including OTs and domestics, embrace and this has been achieved.

Safety is more of a primary focus as oppose to risk. By addressing the safety issues the risks are being better managed. This shift in mind-set and the support given to the team is resulting in better integration of a fresh approach into daily thinking and practice. This has been key.

The Measuring and Monitoring of Safety was a (phase 1) project funded by the Health Foundation as a result of research by Charles Vincent et al, resulting in a ‘spotlight’ report published by the Health Foundation. This report has instigated much discussion and debate on measures, monitoring and safety and introduces the Measuring and Monitoring of Safety Framework.

As project manager for Bradford District Care Foundation Trust (pilot site), the journey to explore implementing the use of the framework at different levels of the organisation has been and remains challenging.

With anything new it takes time to find direction and the way forward, which is why the concept and the application of the framework is being tested; and why on some days it felt just like plaiting fog.

What became obvious early on was that we had to create our own direction. We looked at the safety climate, teamwork, terminology, language, measures in use, monitoring in place to help provide a way forward.

We quickly learnt to adapt the terminology and language we used for each of the disciplines we were working with so that the concept of the framework was understood and made sense.

This work has confirmed for me that more time and effort should be spent developing change in micro teams and systems for real ownership and sustainability to be achieved. A blanket approach is all well and good and serves a purpose but the value is in the teams and their engagement and ownership of change. The reality is that all the departments are just like individuals, they are all different with different needs and priorities and this needs more respect and time afforded to it.

We can share and apply the principles that come from learning from a macro drive, however there needs to be flexibility in that application for teams to retain their individuality and adapt the learning appropriately ensuring that there is ownership and responsibility where it should be.

The project is nearing the end and the key challenge now is the continuation the work we have started within the teams and across the Trust. You can’t spell CHALLENGE without change. If we are going to rise to this challenge we have to be prepared to change. Will it be easy, NOPE, will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY.

Lynn Pearl – Risk and Resilience Manager

Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust

Tel: 01274 228297

Email: lynn.pearl@bdct.nhs.uk

Lynn Pearl