Safety huddles

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A case study describing action by Yorkshire and Humber patient safety collaborative (PSC) to set up safety huddles.

What is a ‘huddle’?

A safety huddle is a short multidisciplinary briefing, held at a predictable time and place, and focused on the patients most at risk. Effective safety huddles involve agreed actions, are informed by visual feedback of data and provide the opportunity to celebrate success in reducing harm. These:

  • enhance teamwork through communication and co-operative problem-solving
  • share understanding of the focus and priorities for the day  
  • improve situational awareness of safety concerns. 

What the PSC did

Yorkshire and Humber PSC, through the AHSN’s Improvement Academy, supports and coaches frontline teams to implement safety huddles and deliver sustained improvements in care. Starting in 2013 with one team on one ward, the Huddle Up for Safer Healthcare (HUSH) programme has been scaled up as part of a Health Foundation scaling up programme and is now active in 264 teams across 33 organisations covering acute, community and mental health settings as well as care homes.

The original HUSH focus was falls prevention. However, from its work helping teams address their safety priorities, the PSC now has evidence of effectiveness in addressing pressure ulcers, deteriorating patients, nutrition and hydration; and for mental health teams, seclusion, self-harm and violence and aggression. The HUSH programme has been extended beyond clinical care to include hospital porters.

Impact

So far, 6,051 falls have been prevented. Based on cost estimates from NHS Improvement, this equates to £15.7 million in avoided healthcare costs for Yorkshire and a return on investment of 107%. 

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