"Communicate to Connect"

by Dr Esse Menson, Senior Associate, MMFDr Esse Menson

“Communicate to Connect” was the theme of this year's excellent Paediatric Critical Care Society (PCCS) conference in Edinburgh.  This excellent meeting was a compassionate call to action.  It encouraged healthcare professionals to connect and communicate on multiple levels: with themselves, with their multidisciplinary colleagues, with families and with the myriad of challenges being faced in these times.  The theme closely aligns with MMF's philosophy to support staff and families where disagreements and conflicts arise, issues so often related to a breakdown of communication and connection. 

The conference was opened with a keynote by internationally renowned hostage negotiator, Cathy McDonald who drew cogent parallels from her own work to the challenges faced in clinical settings, where different views and perspectives can exist, either between clinicians or between clinicians and families.  Cathy shared key principles and transferable skills which underpin effective communication in the face of disagreement and conflict.  She emphasised how appropriate curiosity is key, how the nuance of language matters, and how  compassionate listening can be effectively communicated through the choice of words, tone, pace and body language. She also highlighted that, in order to move from conflict towards resolution, people need time for processing, time for reflection and time to ‘journey’ from one viewpoint to another.  This message accords with the case history poster MMF presented at the conference entitled: ‘Mediation as a process for resolving conflict in paediatric healthcare: parent and professional reflections on a seemingly intractable case’.

Carli Whittaker, PCCS president, closed the 2-day meeting by outlining the key topics the society plans to prioritise in the year ahead. Top of the list is the challenge of managing disagreements and conflict between family and clinical teams. From the numerous, seemingly ‘minor’ daily tensions at the bedside - incidents that are in the “Green Zone” of the MMF conflict pathway - through to the extreme, rarer but not insignificant number of cases which end in court. Each conflict takes its toll: on staff, on their ability to deliver the quality of care they aspire to, on the parents and families, and on the care the child receives. Optimising skills in navigating disagreements effectively is all the more important in these ever more challenging times of resource limitations and workforce deficits.  

PCCS were closely involved with the NHSe / MMF joint venture to produce an e-learning foundation course on recognising and managing conflict which is freely available to all NHS England staff. PCCS formally endorse the e-learning course and encourage all critical staff to complete the self-paced, 3 module training.  The Royal College of Nursing has also endorsed the course and accredited it for CPD.  Endorsement by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is pending.

"This is the best e-learning course I have ever done" Dr Hilary Cass OBE, former President, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

"I cannot recommend highly enough this excellent online training in managing conflict between families and healthcare professionals.  It should be compulsory for anyone working in PICU (and other areas)"  Professor Stephen Playfor, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist

Video introduction to the e-learning course

Download the introduction to the NHSe course

Find out more about the MMF Conflict Management Programme


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