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National Kitchen Table Week at Frimley Health – Rachel Hitchman

Two nurses standing in front of a Sign up to Safety bannerAfter reading the Sign Up to Safety update email announcing National Kitchen Table Week it was automatically something we, the Sign Up to Safety Team at Frimley Health, wanted to run with and bring to our staff. We ordered our two kits as quickly as we could, and with that I was already starting to process thoughts and ideas of how we could host our kitchen table: gingham table cloth, Sign Up to Safety ‘green pinnies’, types of cakes and brainstorming catchphrase names such as ‘kitchenitis’. Looking back now we had no idea how big and powerful the week would be.

Photo of a kitchen table with food on itI work for Frimley Health as the Sign Up to Safety facilitator. Last year we were able to attend the Patient First Conference in November and we witnessed how well the Sign Up to Safety campaign kitchen worked, by sitting down, taking the time to listen, being kind to one another, having open and honest conversations over some cake, and discovering what we can learn from doing so. We wanted to do the same for our staff, to give them a platform where they felt safe, cared for and listen to, and the kitchen table would enable this.

Then the planning begun, firstly we considered our audience, and who to invite. We were going to invite everyone! We felt strongly that the kitchen table would be for everyone, all staff in the Trust, clinical and non – clinical because anyone of any grade can see something and all staff are involved and have an impact on patient safety. To be able to build our safety culture and make our patient’s safer everyone needs the same level of support so that they feel able to talk openly and honestly, without judgement and that they will be listened too. Embedding this culture will make it easier to talk about what it’s like on the frontline and how we act when things go well or when they go wrong, enabling us to hopefully prevent incidents and improve practice.

photo of a woman sat at a tableWe are a multi-site organisation so we selected our two largest sites. We wanted to make sure we were able to capture a range of staff working different shift patterns, two days at each site felt like a good balance that we could accomplish. After discussing and liaising with staff members we had our dates and times set, at Frimley – Monday with a morning and afternoon session, Friday with a late morning session. Wexham – two on the Tuesday and one on the Thursday, all in 3 different venues. Even Suzette dropped in for a chat as we heard she was looking for a cup of tea during the Sign up to Safety’s webinar. At Wexham we decided to take a trolley with our kettle, tea and cake to the ward, as originally there were some concerns that not all departments were engaged with events. If needed we were prepared for a trolley dash to the wards. In fact when we hosted our kitchen table at Wexham we had so much engagement that the trolley dash wasn’t required. We could have actually benefitted from it at Frimley!

At Wexham the venues worked well, we used staff rooms and the dementia friendly sunflower room that had a lovely garden area which we were able to access. We took our kitchen table outside and enjoyed some of the sunshine whilst having our conversations about safety with staff. Staff loved the opportunity to get away to a different environment and take some time for themselves. The duration of our kitchen tables was an hour and a half to two hours, we felt that this was the right amount of time. It allows time for a good number of staff to attend, engage then return to their areas and inform others, giving more staff the opportunity to visit. Under an hour was too little and more than two hours was too much. We advertised the events widely throughout the trust. I created a poster advertising the dates, times and venues. An email explaining the importance of the kitchen table was sent to the nursing directorate, matrons and senior sisters to help continue to filter the message down. The National Kitchen Table Week was communicated to all staff using the trusts intranet, email,  updates, topic of the week (TOTW), yammer, twitter, anyone on patient safety training and by telling everyone I came across!

Group of nurses in a carFor travelling over to our sister site, at Wexham from Frimley we hired the Trusts electric car, with our kitchen table kits, plenty of CAKE, selection of teas, our lovely bright green pinnies and our scribble boards at the ready! Frimley Health Sign Up to Safety bringing NKTW to life!!  It was an exciting journey followed by lots of moving experiences and meaningful conversations.

Reflecting on the whole week, it was a success and we thoroughly enjoyed #NKTW2017 There were some things we would do differently the next time we run our NKTW, Suh as; the position of the tables, being in a more visible area and  smaller tables for people to sit around than one big table as we found this worked better with more flow to the conversations. With a bigger table the conversation was more likely to become dominated by one speaker.

The event was very exciting and great to be involved in. We were able to engage with a variety of staff and hear how they are feeling, their concerns and what makes them feel valued. The top overarching themes involved conversations, morale and attitude, acknowledgement, recognition, feedback, support, and staffing and skill mix.

We are also taking the opportunity to continue our kitchen table at events throughout the year to support staff having meaningful conversations, where they can feel safe, cared for and listened to and help us build a stronger safety culture. The Gingham table cloth, the lovely Sign Up to Safety mural, our green pinnies and teapot are not finished with just yet!

Summary of feedback from the day

Summary of what was discussed at Frimley Health's kitchen table