Opinion

A civil workplace is essential for patient safety

Incivility makes the workplace unpleasant and unsafe, but nurse managers can help tackle this with active kindness and demonstrations of care

Incivility makes the workplace unpleasant and unsafe, but nurse managers can help tackle this with active kindness and demonstrations of care


Picture: Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

We have a problem in healthcare, and it’s called incivility. Refusing to help a colleague, an eye-roll at the bedside, an email from your manager in CAPITALS. Sound familiar?

Incivility is distinct from bullying. It’s low-level and often unintended to cause offence, yet it affects many of us.

Incivility affects nurses' ability to work

Whether we experience it directly, witness it happening to a colleague or instigate it ourselves, the effect it has on our ability to work is staggering.

‘A civil work environment is not just nice to have; it is essential for patient safety’

According to the Civility Saves Lives campaign, incivility is linked to a decrease in cognitive function, team working and staff organisational commitment, and an increase in sickness and other poor outcomes that affect patient care. A civil work environment is not just nice to have; it is essential for patient safety.

Replacing incivility with kindness

This problem is not unique to nursing; healthcare is a team sport involving many interactions between professions. As nurse managers, we can lead the way by role modelling kindness, a concept promoted by NHS Resolution.

So try to replace incivility with active kindness. Demonstrating care, sensitivity, thoughtfulness and support to our colleagues is infectious and can spread through a team to improve patient care.

Ask yourself, who do you want to be?

In the words of Christine Porath, author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace: ‘Ask yourself who do you want to be? The actions we take and how we treat other people determines our success.’

To support staff dealing with incivility, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust simulation team has produced a video Make or Break: Incivility in the Workplace. The video is used during teaching, trust induction and staff meetings to encourage multiprofessional dialogue and personal reflection.

The film has been well received and can be used to help your healthcare colleagues start tackling incivility in the workplace.

About the author

Jessica WadsworthJess Wadsworth is deputy lead for simulation and human factors, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust

 

 

Further information

Email: jessica.wadsworth@nhs.net

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