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Mater Education takes ‘speaking up’ concepts to Hong Kong


Mater Education’s Director of Simulation Melanie Barlow will be presenting in Hong Kong next month on the importance of ‘speaking up’ in healthcare; she will deliver an interactive talk at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on 14 June and present at the Fourth International Conference on Linguistics and Language Studies on 15 June.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which runs an International Research Centre for the Advancement of Health Communication (IRCAHC), approached Ms Barlow after learning of her research on ‘speaking up’ in healthcare.

“One of the leading causes of poor patient outcomes in hospitals is due to a breakdown in communication or communication errors,” Ms Barlow said.

“Anything we can do to improve how we communicate will benefit the patient. If we can teach people how to receive a message, then not only will that help with ‘speaking up’ conversations, it will help ‘feedback’ conversations and ‘continuous improvement’ conversations.

“There’s an increasing focus in Hong Kong from clinicians and researchers on the issue of how to speak up. The IRCAHC is an amazing centre which has been set up just to focus on improving communication in healthcare.”

Ms Barlow’s research examines how healthcare clinicians receive messages in a ‘speaking up’ context and her presentations will explore ways to break through the barriers to effective communication, ensuring messages are exchanged between health professionals in an open, honest and respectful manner.

“It’s about creating an environment where people feel safe to speak up, but also where people are okay with being on the receiving end of someone who has a different perception to them,” Ms Barlow said.

In alignment with Mater’s commitment to providing exceptional care and a safe space for both patients and staff, Mater Education has begun rolling out a Speaking with Good Judgement © program across the entire organisation, to provide a framework for effective communication.

“It’s quite unique that Mater is putting 7000 staff through this training course—not just clinicians,” Ms Barlow said.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to present on this topic and to be involved in educating Mater staff across the board through the Speaking with Good Judgement © course, because it allows us to lead the way in improving healthcare communication and—consequently—patient outcomes.”