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

I Finally Got Myself a Health Card: PhilCare ERVantage 80

When I resigned from my previous work in a BPO company, one thing that I worried about losing was my HMO card/ health card. I know that having a health card is very important especially to those of us working as we cannot predict when we are going to get sick and be confined in the hospital. As I left my previous job and started working as a nurse, I know it sounds ironic but free hospitalization is not part of the benefits of the newly hired employees, not until I reach my 1st year anniversary from work. Since I know its advantage, I had been looking for an affordable health card since the start of my new work. Last month, as I was reading a blog, I read a post about the new product PhilCare is offering, an affordable health card that can be used for emergency treatment leading to admission in a hospital. I read the inclusions and exclusions list of the product and realized that the card suited me and my needs. I checked first if the hospital where I am working is accredited, when I found out that it is accredited, I immediately purchased the health card using my credit card.


PhilCare ERVantage 80

The product is ERVantage 80. As per PhilCare website, the ER Vantage 80 prepaid card is a one-time use emergency care leading to admission health card for individuals 6 months to 64 years old. I chose the variant which offers private room for admission and has the highest limit among its other variants. The card that I purchased has up to Php80,000 in health benefits .

The price of the card is Php1,300 pesos. When I purchased the card online, I saw in the screen that I was charged Php1,365 pesos. I was clueless for the extra Php65 charge. The transaction was fast. I just have one comment on the purchasing process online. When the transaction was finished, there was no note in the screen that the transaction went through, no order confirmation email or whatsoever. So I was clueless if the transaction went through or not. I just decided to see in the coming days if I will receive the card or not. Then, after 2 days, I received a package, and in there was the PhilCare health card I purchased online. I was actually amazed at how fast the card was delivered to my home. In the package, I saw the breakdown of charges. The Php65 additional fee was for the shipping. I just hope it was specified online that there will be shipping fee. But I really don’t mind paying for it.

After receiving my card, I registered my information with that of the card, and that was through text. In the note, the card will be effective after 7 days of registration. So, as of the moment, I am already covered. The coverage of the member is valid for one year.

With this health card, I am no longer worried if ever I will be hospitalized and will need expensive medicines or will need diagnostic procedures. (I don’t want to be a burden to my family.) After 1 year, if ever I won’t be able to use the card, well, that is a great news. It means, I didn’t get sick, or I was not absent on work and that I’m healthy. Let us not think that purchasing a health insurance or any kind of insurance means that you are expecting to get sick or whatever. This is just for protection. Loving ourselves means taking care of ourselves.

For more information of the PhilCare ERVantage 80 card, please click on this link .

If you have been looking for a health card, just a friendly advice, read first all the benefits and exclusions list and see if the product suits your need. Really, health is wealth.