My previous blog talked about how the idea for SISOS (Safety Incident Supporting Our Staff) – an initiative to support staff involved in safety incidents – came about at Chase Farm Hospital. The SISOS team provide confidential, emotional support in a safe environment and make other support, including professional help more easily accessible. It is important to recognise that we are 'Listeners' and not professional counsellors.
My second blog continues this journey.
A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms. (Zenkei Shibayama)
My original presentation of SISOS to the department where I work (theatres) had a huge impact and colleagues recognised the need for it and wanted it.
Strong leadership and commitment is essential. I have faced challenges along the way and so far have managed to keep going, but it hasn’t always been easy. I will talk about those challenges as I go. There have been times when I have questioned why I’ve kept going and every so often that question is answered.
At a recent conference where I presented a poster, a beautiful human being, kind, intelligent, dedicated to saving lives, looked me in the eyes and said, "How do you support second victims?" and then proceeded to weep uncontrollably.
Needless to say I took their willing hand and we shared tea together in a quiet spot. Their incident happened 4 years ago and no blame was attached. This beautiful human being was not an F1 but a consultant.
Ironically two days later at work, a consultant suggested that consultants as a group don’t need support because "We have years of experience, we can manage". It’s fair to say that as a group, experienced consultants have challenged the need for this initiative more than other groups and some have been very cynical. However on the whole they have been supportive and welcoming of it.
Following my original presentation and the positive feedback from my colleagues, the first thing I did was to form a working group of very senior staff. Nothing would have been possible without their belief and their buy-in. We examined our Trust policy and looked at existing resources; for example, we have an Employee Assistance Programme, which provides professional counselling free of charge to our staff. It was important to see what we as an organisation could provide without incurring additional cost.
My experience has been that although support is there in theory, in reality staff were not necessarily accessing it and so one of our roles as Listeners is to improve accessibility.
As a group we looked at safety, including the safety of our Listeners and how we support them. Guidelines were produced and training provided. We recognise that we are not experts and that this is still a relatively new initiative for us and one which is evolving.
In my next blog I will talk about setting up the SISOS Calm Zone, our safe space.
For further information please contact me: email@example.com