The WFSA spoke to Dr Catherine Crock, a physician working at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne and founder of the HUSH Foundation, about what we can expect at the Congress and why their sessions in the Arts and Humanities track are a must see for anaesthesiologists with an interest in patient safety.
WFSA: Tell us a bit about the HUSH foundation. How did it start?
Cath Crock: ‘The Hush Foundation started 15 years ago out of work at Royal Children Hospital Melbourne. I started talking to patients and families about their experiences in healthcare. I realised we could we could learn a lot from patients about their needs, and they could help us make improvements.
One of the first things parents talked about was getting adequate pain management for their children, so we started working with anaesthetists.
The families also said that the environment when they come into a hospital with a sick child or family member it is very challenging and stressful, so I involved musicians and composers to see if they could help us improve that environment.’
WFSA: What kind of things did the musicians think about when producing music for the hospital environment?
Cath Crock: ‘The composers came into the theatres, recovery rooms and waiting areas and talked to families and staff, then went away and composed especially for the environment.
They observed that there is a cacophony of noise in a hospital and they needed their music to sit somewhere in that environment without making it worse. They said it’s one of the most challenging briefs they ever had.’
WFSA: As well as musical performances, the HUSH Foundation will also put on two plays at the Congress. Can you tell me a bit more about those and how they relate to patient safety?
Cath Crock: The HUSH foundation originally started by making music, but I then started thinking about what’s called “patient and family centred care” - that’s how health professionals, families and patients can work more closely particularly around patient safety, and make improvements by learning from each other. That led me to think about other ways to explore issues in healthcare that are quite difficult, things like culture and behaviour amongst staff. If the staff are not treating each other with respect, or if there’s bullying and harassment going on it’s bad for the patients and bad for the staff. People have intrinsically known that for a long time but it hasn’t changed the culture in healthcare.
So I spoke to a famous Australian playwright, Alan Hopgood and Alan has written two plays with me now. The first one is called ‘Hear Me’ and explores medical error, bad behaviour amongst staff and patient safety. Medical and nursing staff didn’t listen to the mother when she knew something was wrong. There was a culture of fear amongst the staff and so they didn’t speak up when there was an error.
The other play we are bringing to Hong Kong is called “Do you know me?” and it explores issues in age care. So lots of different things - dementia, racism and elder abuse, and how staff treat patients and treat each other.
After the play we discuss it with the audience. They watch the drama unfold and then we talk about the issues, what they’ve see in their work practice, and how they think we can make sure that these things don’t happen.
WFSA: It’s interesting that you build a discussion component into the experience. What kind of response do you usually get? What do you think the benefits of the discussions are?
Cath Crock: The discussions afterwards are fascinating; we learn something every time. We take it into the lecture theatres or seminar rooms and it takes people by surprise. They’re used to a lecture on patient safety but are surprised and delighted and get caught up in the emotion of what’s going on in these dramas. That can help people to shift their thinking a little bit.
The other thing we do with the plays is collect all the information that the audience has talked about. We’ve so far got data from about 7,000 people from around Australia who have seen the plays and commented in the issues. Like bullying in their hospital and how it could be addressed, ideas they’ve got for improvements in patient safety etc. We are going to write that up for a journal article.
Renowned Australian composer and musician Joe Chindamo will perform a musical piece at the WCA’s Opening Ceremony and at 2 other performances during the Congress. The plays will be performed on Tuesday 30th August and Thursday 1st September. If you are interested in attending the Congress or want more information about the Scientific Programme, please click here.