Handling difficult situations with compassion – training programme

NHS England is pleased to announce the extension of a national training programme – ‘Handling difficult situations – Caring for yourself and others with compassion’.

This training course is being offered to all frontline, patient facing NHS colleagues, and aims to teach colleagues the skills and techniques to handle difficult situations with compassion, including using appropriate communication techniques and active listening skills, whilst focussing on how to keep yourself safe and seek support if you feel affected by a situation.

The skills learnt in the training are considered transferable and can be used in a wide range of difficult situations, for example where patients may present in a challenging or distressed manner, during instances of uncivil behaviour or when speaking about difficult topics of conversation.  The training also offers insight into models of self-awareness, self-compassion and emotional intelligence – all of which are important in looking after our own wellbeing, as well as that of others.

What will I learn on the training?

All delegates will:

  • Gain an understanding of what we mean by compassion and the types of difficult situations our NHS colleagues may face, using case studies based on real life experiences from our NHS people
  • Learn about foundation-level communication skills and techniques that will support you to consider how to handle a difficult situation safely and with compassion
  • Have access to dedicated time to practice the skills and techniques discussed in a safe space, with the support of a facilitator and your group
  • Engage with other colleagues across the NHS and the opportunity to learn from shared experiences
  • Receive up-to-date information on the national health and wellbeing support offers available from NHS England

Feedback from the 2021/22 pilot

This training programme was piloted in 2021/22 with over 2,000 NHS colleagues and achieved excellent results on evaluation – with 95% overall satisfaction amongst attendees.  Delegates reported an overall 25% increase in confidence in handling difficult situations with compassion following completion of the training, as well as feeling more aware of their own wellbeing as a result of the training.

“I found the training beneficial and interesting as we have never had anything like this offered before in the 23 years I’ve worked for the NHS.”

“This has been invaluable in helping me to realise I need to look after myself as well as patients’ wellbeing.”

Who can sign up

This training is targeted at colleagues in patient-facing, frontline roles across all sectors of the NHS, who may not have received any training of this type before. Please note that the communication techniques and skills taught are foundation level – this is not an advanced level course.

Below are some examples of staff groups who may wish to consider the programme (please note this list is not exhaustive and these are suggestions only):

  • Administration and clerical roles, including receptionists, ward clerks and primary care practice managers
  • Personalised care roles, including social prescribing link workers, health and wellbeing coaches and care coordinators
  • Porters and estates colleagues
  • Linen and cleaning services
  • Telephone line operatives, including mental health crisis teams and ambulance call centre colleagues
  • Community care staff such as health visitors
  • Clinicians who may not have received any training of this type before

The training will be held virtually using MS Teams and will take 3 hours.  Colleagues will need permission from their line manager to attend the full session as they will not be able to leave part way through.

All colleagues must have access to a camera and microphone for the session and this must remain switched on throughout – this is to enable the facilitator to keep the space psychologically safe.  As the training is a participation style programme, colleagues will also need to be able to actively engage in the session.

How do I sign up?

Please visit https://escalla.co.uk/handling-difficult-situations/ to book a session.

If you have any questions about the programme or would like to read the evaluation of the pilot, please email ournhspeople.hwb@nhs.net.

Handling difficult situations with compassion – e-learning programme

NHS England has also developed a free, online version of the ‘Handling difficult situations – Caring for yourself and others with compassion’ training. This is now available for all patient-facing NHS colleagues in either clinical or non-clinical roles.  If you are unable to attend the live training sessions, please access the e-learning on the Health Education e-Learning for Healthcare website by signing up here.