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Home » News » Safety Huddles Initiative expands to reach more health care sites and programs

Safety Huddles Initiative expands to reach more health care sites and programs

WRHA embarks on largest ever Quality and Patient Safety project for patients & employees

By Bobbi-Jo Stanley
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority
Published Thursday, July 27, 2023

Safer care for patients and better wellbeing on the job for healthcare employees. It's the goal of a massive project in the Winnipeg Health Region launched by the Quality and Safety team in the fall of 2022. The team piloted daily safety huddles on inpatient and outpatient units and support areas across WRHA , with more safety huddles now being expanded to Community sites 

Kim Nickel is a Patient Care Team Manager at Seven Oaks Hospital. She leads the daily safety huddles on the Geriatric Rehabilitation Unit. "The safety huddle is a safe place for us to connect as a team, to have that 15 minutes where we all feel we have the opportunity to work as a team on any concerns," explains Nickel.  

The huddles are designed to be a daily opportunity to engage with teams, giving everyone a voice to promote a culture of safety and to focus on making improvements to ensure patients are receiving safe, quality care and the work environment is a better, safer place to be. They take approximately 15 minutes and happen at the same time every day. 

As of the end of May 2022, 176 units implemented daily safety huddles – 95 inpatient units, as well as 61 outpatient units and 20 support areas. Teams are also working to launch Safety Huddles in the Community sites. So far, huddles have been launched at five Access Centres, with work underway to and launch at the remaining ACCESS Centres and long-term care sites. 

Kim starts each safety huddle with a temperature check of the staff asking, "How are we feeling today? Thumbs up or thumbs down?" She also asks staff to bring forward any issues, "Are there any safety concerns that need to be brought up at this time?" Staff can either bring up those concerns by speaking at the huddle or writing up a "safety ticket" that can be posted on the bulletin board. It's an example in action of how WRHA leadership is listening to and empowering every team member to provide the highest quality care experience for patients, clients and their families. 

Nurses, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Social Workers, Unit Clerks, Health Care Aides, cleaning staff and others working on the units all take part. Ruth-Anne Craig works as a social worker on the unit. "We're an interdisciplinary team so it gives you a chance to see how everybody is doing, what the problems are. I'm a social worker so it's good for me to know how the medical people feel and the rest of the allied health staff."  

The huddles are also open to patients and families, so they are an opportunity for the public to share any safety concerns they have while receiving care. 

A focus for the safety huddles on the Seven Oaks Geri Rehab unit is documenting the number of falls, as well as skin integrity, such as bed sores and pressure ulcers. Both are areas where prevention can lead to better health outcomes for patients, and less time spent in hospital receiving care. 

According to Nickel, the safety huddles are making a real difference to collaboration and team work on the unit. "It's really enhanced our quality of care and feeling safe and that staff are able to bring forward issues and work through them." As Nickel explains, she hopes the huddles "Will build a trusting safe environment for not only for our patients, but our staff. And so that we feel comfortable to have very difficult and potentially challenging conversations." 

Social worker Ruth-Anne Craig says, "It's just important that everybody is reflective about how ok they are feeling and at work a lot of things can happen. I think it takes time to build trust and the safety huddle is one way to do that." 

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