This year marks the 5th anniversary of Me first training and as a team we have been reflecting on how health and care professionals use Me first in their practice. It has been useful to review the feedback we receive from delegates about how they have progressed towards their Me first goals.
Goal setting is an integral element of Me first training. At the end of every masterclass each delegate is asked to set a goal about how they will apply their learning from Me first training in their practice. We recommend the goal be as specific as possible and achievable. The aim is for the goal to have a positive impact on your communication with children and young people (CYPs), so the more achievable the better.
Before each masterclass we ask delegates to come to training with a scenario in mind that they find challenging in their practice and want to work on. Common examples of challenging scenarios include:
- Speaking to a CYP alone without their parents.
- Engaging a CYP who does not want to speak.
- How to proceed when a CYP is refusing treatment or a procedure.
- Managing conflict with a parent or CYP.
During the afternoon delegates are given an opportunity to apply their learning from the morning session (where we introduce the Me first communication model and the evidence base behind it), by taking part in simulated conversations based on their own challenging scenario.
Goals are then set by delegates following these practical sessions.
Examples of goals include:
‘Early on in the conversation if with a parent say that ‘I like to speak with all young people on their own, are you happy for this today?’ to the young person.’
‘Use emoji cards to explore how CYPs are feeling’
‘To find a resource that backs up the idea of confidentiality. Adapt it to suit an individual.’
‘To use motivational interviewing techniques to open up my questioning and involve CYP in goal setting.’
‘Use the bullseye feedback resource at the end of appointment to review how useful a conversation has been for a CYP’
We then follow up with delegates via email 8 weeks after the masterclass to remind them of their goals and ask how they are getting on. This feedback is really motivational for the team as it provides evidence that delegates are applying their learning in practice and are hopefully improving the experience of children and young people as a result.
Some examples of positive feedback from delegates about their goal:
Some examples of challenges:
I think it’s important to note that although we set goals and ask for feedback on progress, we are aware that ‘achieving’ a goal is an ongoing process. We want delegates to continue to work towards their goals so that their learning is sustainable and effective. We know that pressures such as heavy workloads and lack of time are barriers to improving communication, but it is encouraging to see that even in cases where delegates have not quite managed to ‘achieve’ their goal, they have still applied some positive changes and are being more child-centred in their practice.
Another way we encourage ongoing learning from Me first training is through the Communication Champions network – a group of professionals who have completed Me first training and meet 3 times a year for themed events where we share ideas and learn from case studies. Our hope is that the Communication Champions network ensures sustainability of Me first training and facilitates continual improvement of communication skills.
When it comes to achieving our goals, we can’t always ‘get it right’, but we believe that by using the Me first principles of child and young person centred communication as a guide, you will be more likely to achieve better health outcomes and improve children and young people’s experience of care.
Maura Neilson, Me first Administrator and Website Resource Manager.