Sage & Thyme: Listening and Responding to People Who are Worried and Distressed

Have you ever encountered seeing or talking to a person who are worried? Surely, we are familiar with the phrase, “Don’t worry. Everything’s gonna be fine.” But is this really the appropriate thing to say? I want to share what I learned in Sage & Thyme Foundation Level Workshop: Listening and responding to people who are worried and distressed.

I voluntarily attended this workshop because I can see the strong need for me, as a health care professional to develop my communication skills as I am dealing with distressed patients and family members all the time. As a nurse working in a respiratory ward for more than a year, I have dealt with this situation multiple times and it’s hard to think of the right thing to say to address the concerns. With our busy day in the ward, giving medications, positioning our patients, doing the nursing care, etc., how can we actually provide therapeutic communications to our patients?

There is a flyer I saw in our ward’s staff room regarding this workshop. I told myself, “I want to attend.” I approached one of the Palliative Care Nurses visiting our ward, told her I am interested in attending the workshop however I cannot find the email address of the secretary to book my place. She then took my NHS email address and said she will leave the note on the secretary’s desk. And after 2 hours, I received an email from Paula and informed me that there is 1 slot left for the seminar. Hmm.. I told myself this must have been for me. So I replied that I would be pleased to attend the seminar.

The entire seminar was facilitated by Sally Parr, a consultant for Cancer Support. She was very good in explaining why communication skills matter because it influences patient’s emotional health, symptom resolution function and physiological measures and decreased reported pain and drug usage.

So why Sage and Thyme? I was also curious. In the seminar I found out that Sage and Thyme is an acronym for the model which stands for…

S- Setting : If you notice concern- create some privacy- sit down

A- Ask : “Can I ask what you are concerned about?”

G- Gather: Gather all concerns – not just the first few

E- Empathy: Respond sensitively- “You have a lot on your mind”

&

T- Talk: “Who do you have to talk to or to support you?”

H- Help: “How do they help?”

Y- You: “What do YOU think would help?”

M- Me: “Is there something you would like ME to do?”

E- End: Summarise and close – “Can we leave it there?”

According to Thora, a Palliative Care Nurse who facilitates the discussion in our group, this model is evidence based and it has been proven effective with clinical research. Depending on the situation, it doesn’t mean that we have to use the whole model all the time. She said we may skip some, but the core thing is to empower the person who is distressed by allowing him to decide what he thinks should be the best decision. We should always seek the patient’s own solutions. This means that we empower and equip individual to recognise and manage their psychological distress. It is more about You (pertaining to the other person) and not Me (meaning myself). She also said that somehow, this lifts the burden in us, health care professionals, that we cannot always and all the time solve our patient’s problems, pain and struggles. We are not a superhero to solve these things and we can only do so much. One more thing that I really like about this model is the fact that whenever we are talking to a distressed individual, it is not always about giving advice. Sometimes, what they need is someone who empathises with them, understands them and listens to them without any judgement. The most important thing is holding back with advice and only make supportive comments. Listening to them means not having to fix or give advice to the other person because this is disempowering.

Saying “Don’t worry. Everything will be alright” is not therapeutic because the truth is, the other person is worried, saying this means you are shutting down the individual.

In my everyday work in the ward, I cannot always run the whole model if a relative or patient has to speak to me because the ward that I permanently work is really busy, but what I will do is to apply the core of the model.

I realized this is not only applicable to my work as a health care professional in the hospital but this is extremely helpful also when talking to a friend, a colleague, a family member who has a problem or to myself.

I believe in this model that’s why I am sharing it in my blog. To know more about Sage and Thyme, you may visit www.sageandthymetraining.org.uk

Pinky Promise

Pinky Promise

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According to Wikipedia, pinky promise is the entwining of the pinkies of two people to signify that a promise has been made.

In every phase of our life, we will face a challenge.

This led me to a quote in my head about waiting. And that is, “Anything worth having is truly worthy waiting.” There is a time for everything. I have to wait for the right time to get married. Because it is also me who set the standards that, in the future when I get married, I promise myself that me and my future husband should be together after the wedding. I will be back. I will come home for good, definitely. But I need to wait for the right time. While waiting, I will study, acquire experiences, get myself ready and sufficient for when the times comes that I have to go back to the Philippines to settle for good, I am mentally, emotionally, physically and financially  ready and equipped to use my learnings in London to build a better life in the Philippines. I believe in my heart that there’s a lot of opportunities in my country. I will improve myself, build my confidence through speaking and remove my naivety that I still have even though I am already approaching my 30s. I know I have a lot of potentials, I just have to develop them and push myself to believe in myself.

I also need to remind myself when I’m feeling sad and homesick, “Think of what London and UK can offer you. It can be new and exciting experiences, it can be different insights about life you will acquire after travelling, it can be professional growth and expertise. There are hundreds of reasons to love what I do now and appreciate where I am right now.” Living independently to a different city teaches me to be more responsible knowing that I have the total liberty, enough money, freedom, unlimited and fast internet connection, exposure to good looking men and women, and with all these, it is knowing how to take responsibility for myself, sticking to my values and stopping myself from being tempted to life traps.

What will I do with the opportunity handed to me? I know I should use this to help and inspire others who are also dreaming in the small town, urban area or in their dark room at night. I have told myself, I don’t want to change. Living in a first world city, living a good life, sometimes it is inevitable to want to keep up with the trend and lifestyle. But I want to keep the simplicity in me.

That is my Pinky Promise. Before this, I have only done pinky promises when I was young. But looking back, these were the most honest, most sincere and most innocent promises we can ever give.

Watching “Zippos Circus”

After coming back from a vacation in the Philippines, I have told myself to be dedicated again to blogging because as an introvert, expressing myself through writing gives me so much joy. There are 3 things I bought in the store today to jumpstart blogging and they are: AA battery, extension cord, and light bulb. Yes, these are the 3 stuff that completed this going-back-to-blogging plan. I needed a AA battery to be used for my wireless mouse so that I can navigate the pointer easily. The light bulb is for the lamp that I requested from our exchange gift last Christmas. I needed a bedside lamp because if I am only using the ceiling light from my room, what happens is that whenever I study or write, I would always get sleepy because it is so dim. With the bedside lamp, it creates additional brightness making the environment conducive to writing. The extension cord is to be used to plug my bedside lamp. So, that’s it. Because of these 3 things, I am now back to blogging.

This is a very late post as this happened in June 2017. My first-time experience watching a circus has always been a topic I’d really want to share here on my blog.

When I was young, I used to watched cartoons on TV every morning on ABS-CBN channel 2. It was the time when I was still young and only need to attend the school in the afternoon so I usually watched TV in the morning. I stayed in our home in the province with my mother (my father was working abroad) and 2 younger brothers while 3 of my older siblings went to school. I remember watching the cartoons “The Dog of Flanders” and “Remi”. I can’t remember which one was it but one or few episodes was about a circus. That image still I can remember. From then on, I knew I wanted to see a real circus. So when I saw a flyer about Zippos Circus coming to Kingston Upon Thames for series of shows,  I asked my friend if she wanted to see the circus with me. She didn’t think twice and happily came with me.

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When we arrived, we saw a big tent that was set up in the Fairfield Recreational Park, my favourite part of town. There were a lot of trucks because that’s what the Zippos Circus do, they travel to different towns across the UK to perform. They stay in a specific place for a week and after the show, they move to another town. I thought this circus is exactly what I watched in the cartoons when I was young.

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Happy Vibe!

When we arrived, the circus was already starting. And the moment we stepped inside the tent, I’ve already felt the happy vibe and the feeling of being child and young at heart. Well, I’m still young but what I am saying is the feeling of being a 5-year-old watching and being amazed at acrobats, stunts, etc.

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We saw a popcorn and cotton candy stand. My friend and I looked at each other and laughed. We knew right away that we wanted to buy these kiddie snacks. So we bought 1 popcorn and  1 cotton candy and we shared. When we were taking pictures of our cotton candy, the circus host popped in to join. Haha. He also performed with birds doing tricks like basketball. Looking at him, it’s evident that he had been in a circus for most of his life.

Then we sat on our allotted seat, we were escorted inside by the member of the security. The show was very organized from the time we bought our ticket until the end of the show and when going out of the venue. A circus is indeed a happy place. I was there at the venue with a big smile on my face, being entertained and feeling the joy of a child. As what the circus host said after the show, “You are never too old to enjoy a circus.”

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This is one of the activities here in the UK that gave real joy in my life and a big smile on my face, a must watch show and a must have experience.

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