August 23, 2023

Speaking up for safety in the Broadmeadows Inpatient Unit

In partnership with the Cognitive Institute, Northern Health launched the Speaking Up For Safety (SUFS) program last year to enhance the physical and psychological safety of patients and staff.

The program consisted of one-hour workshops to equip staff with the skills and confidence to escalate concerns around patient safety and/or staff safety with assertiveness and respect.

Over the past few months, each division has had the opportunity to attend a SUFS session. During these sessions, staff were educated on the Safety CODE (Checks, Options, Demands, Elevates) – a proactive tool that enables staff to speak up before mistakes happen to prevent unintended harm to patients and staff.

Staff have been encouraged to use the Safety CODE at every team meeting, clinical handover, huddle, shift commencement and conclusion, ward walk-around and at every critical moment.

A recent experience in the Broadmeadows Inpatient Unit (BIPU) demonstrated how the Safety CODE can be successfully used.

A consumer was admitted to the BIPU for treatment, and staff provided consumer education and used engagement strategies to gain rapport and enable the consumer to feel safe to take oral medications.

During a consultant review, the consumer was prescribed an injectable medication, which the consumer initially refused and threatened harm to others. The team gathered to discuss the plan and the Safety CODE was raised with the consultant.

After discussing options, a plan was made to ensure all staff felt safe and further escalation wasn’t required. The staff were able to work with the consumer to provide treatment is a safe space, which resulted in improved health outcomes.

Tamara Cannan, Nurse Unit Manager, said it was encouraging to see her staff feel safe to use the Safety CODE and to know that everyone’s voice is respected and acknowledged.

“Working together as a team, utilising the Safety Code at BIPU, has improved staff confidence in raising concerns resulting in improved consumer outcomes and reduction in restrictive interventions,” she said.

Evelyn O’Rourke, Social Worker, said the Safety CODE is great for empowering staff to feel safe at work and to ensure the best care possible for consumers. While Simba Harawa, Mental Health Intensive Care Area Response Clinician, said the team discussed options which helped the, feel valued.

Featured image: BIPU staff.