Patient engagement

Patients can be important participants in ensuring the safety of their own care - if healthcare professionals engage with them effectively.

There are ethical and moral imperatives to empower patients to be actively involved in the safety of their care. There are also practical imperatives as patients typically see more of their care than any individual healthcare professional. In the past, patient engagement has focused on communicating with patients and their families after something has gone wrong. It is increasingly recognised that patients must be involved in safety from the beginning.

Patient safety is about patients, so it iss only right that patients are at the heart of any efforts to improve patient safety. Some of the most important and critical efforts to engage patients in patient safety are after harmful events have occurred.

Communicating openly and honestly

A range of guidance and frameworks exist to help support staff to be honest and open with patients and their families after harmful patient safety events. This is a difficult and challenging process and one that many healthcare professionals are likely to encounter at some point in their careers.

Effectively managing these conversations can help all partners come to terms with the situation. Being open: communicating patient safety incidents with patients, their families and carers is a best practice guide that explains the principles of communicating openly and honestly to patients, families and carers following harm caused by patient safety incidents. It is aimed at all healthcare staff, from boards to front line clinicians

The power of patient stories

To learn from patient safety events, patient stories have become a powerful and valuable resource for healthcare organisations. Connecting a face, a name, a person and a personality to the impact of patient safety events can be hugely motivating and have a powerful impact on safety improvement efforts.

There is a range of guidance on using patients stories with staff and with boards to support patient safety improvement efforts, and to help professionals negotiate the sensitivities and ethical issues involved. Increasingly, videos and other materials relating to patient stories are being shared openly as a collective resource for healthcare organisations to draw on.

PatientStories, an online video library, provides a range of engaging and powerful patient stories, professionally produced and edited to communicate the impact, complexity and importance of patient safety incidents in the lives of patients, their families and carers. 

All resources on patient engagement