Creative ideas keep staff on TeamSTEPPS

Butler County Health Care Center (BCHCC) in David City, NE, has an enthusiastic team of master trainers who provide training and coaching in the Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS) program offered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which improves communication teamwork.

Without constant reinforcement and the instilling of the TeamSTEPPS tools as new habits, the old, less desirable habits will return, says CEO Don Naiberk. The master trainers brainstorm to come up with ideas to keep TeamSTEPPS in front of the staff. These were some of their ideas:

• BCHCC has a stuffed penguin mascot named YaYa that travels around the hospital, building situational awareness. He moves to a different location each week and carries a sign that holds the name of a TeamSTEPPS tool or strategy. There is a weekly prize drawing for employees who complete a form listing where they found YaYa, what his message is, and what the message means (how or where can it be used). There’s a bit of excitement and mystery associated with YaYa and a bit of healthy competition in finding him, Naiberk says. The explanation of YaYa’s tools have been complete and detailed, showing either the staff learned well or are diligently looking in their pocket guides to refresh their memories, he says.

Knowing that poor communication was a major cause of error and confusion in the hospital, another cartoon penguin character, Didga U. Know, was created. His purpose is to alert staff about new policies or other important information. When Didga is posted at building entrances to give staff a heads-up, it is their responsibility to seek out the new information through their supervisors, posted notices, and the hospital’s online resources.

Because of remodeling, there is a temporary, unfinished wall in the hospital dining room that was made into a TeamSTEPPS graffiti wall. Its artwork and text reinforce TeamSTEPPS tools and strategies. Staff members are invited to share their team success stories by posting them on the wall.

• A “Play and Learn” TeamSTEPPS session is held the first Friday of every month. Sessions feature a tool or strategy and an opportunity to practice using it. Along with the featured tool, simple team-building exercises are conducted. The Play and Learn is set up in the staff cafeteria during break times, and treats are used to encourage participation.

• BCHCC developed a DVD to introduce TeamSTEPPS to new hires as part of their orientation. It explains the concept of teamwork and the tools and vocabulary of TeamSTEPPS so individuals will understand the team tools when they are used. As new hires are added, they are trained in TeamSTEPPS Fundamentals in group settings. A quarterly Fundamentals training in two four-hour sessions is held to ensure all employees have the same training and understanding of the TeamSTEPPS concepts.