Emotional touchpoints: my experience

Andreia Simoes, FoNS Inspire Improvement Fellow

Hey everyone, my name is Andreia, and I work as senior sister for both the Coronary Care Unit and G9 Acute Cardiac Ward at Frimley Park Hospital. Both units accommodate 30 beds, 10 of those are acute cardiology beds. I oversee a total of 60 members of staff, from ward clerks to healthcare assistants and nurses of different bands.

Talking about our emotions isn’t always easy. Some of us are masters of putting on a brave, smiling face with the intention of hiding our true emotions and thoughts. In this blog I’m going to share my experience of using the emotional touchpoints framework to look past this defence and talk about how my team has benefited from this.

As healthcare professionals, we need to be in total control of our emotions. Remaining calm, confident, displaying sensitivity, and understanding no matter how stressful a situation is, however this is not always possible or the case for everyone. For many of us, we need help processing our feelings to accurately be able to express how a situation or an experience made us feel. Emotional touchpoints can be a highly effective way of facilitating this sharing process.

I was introduced to this concept in the Inspire Improvement Fellowship, and I was pleasantly surprised to see and experience the effects of its utilisation in practice. I felt there was a great potential in the use of the emotional touchpoints and was keen to introduce it to my own team. Since I manage a very large team, I decided to use it with the band 5s in a first instance.

To do this I introduced my team to the Evoke emotional cards. Each card has an emotion written on it. A total of approximately 50 words/emotions were displayed on a board. The experience of having the emotions in front of you, in some cases words that you would not necessarily use, but perfectly describe the way you feel about something, allowed everyone to be more specific on how they really felt about something.

My aim was to really understand what they experienced when coming to work, what makes them excited and what stresses them or makes them anxious about it. The question asked was “How do I feel when I come to work?” One by one, me included, we shared our true feelings, the positives and/or negative emotions that work caused. By identifying a feeling and describing it to the team, everyone gained understanding and appreciated the situation from the perspective of the person who lived it. This experience has helped us get to know each other a bit better and we realised that the way one person feels is often shared by someone else, which brought us together and made us elaborate strategies for improvement.

Helping the storyteller to share their experience in a structured way, providing a safe space where they can really feel comfortable sharing can really help team members to open further and go into greater depth. The added detail of the story can then be used to identify small improvements that can have a huge impact on how we act with one another and function as a team. This can then lead people to challenge their assumptions and emotions to prioritise what matters most to them, how they are feeling around a situation or experience of using a service, giving people a chance to share how certain situations made them feel.

The feedback I received from the team was very positive; people felt able to share their real emotions. We can now use this experience in any needed moment, in our personal life as well with our patients and the multidisciplinary team. Care and experiences can be improved if we can properly describe the impact that those have on everyone.

You can find out more about Emotional Touchpoints on the Health Improvement Scotland website

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