The Art of Storytelling


Fresh from presenting the PrISMS poster at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in London. Our Chief Operating Officer Penny Martin tells the story of her time there.

Holiday season is almost upon us and I for one can’t wait to get on that beach and bask in the sunshine with a good book! Sad as I am to admit it I just don’t get enough time to enjoy the art of storytelling in every day life. It’s a total pleasure when I turn my attention to stories during my week long break. I have to confess I am a sucker for a good romance, love a happy ending, there does need to be a good story in that book too, who doesn’t love a good story?!

Last week I spent two days at the IHI’s London Forum, the conference aimed to ‘ignite cognitive excellence’, this was translated in many ways but one of the recurring themes that resonated with me was the importance of story telling.

Right from the opening key note we were told how important storytelling is. Margaret Murphy (External Lead Advisor (WHO patients for Patient Safety Programme)) co-facilitated with Anya De Longh (self management coach and patient leader), an interview with Lord Ara Drazi and Don Berwick. We heard the eminent leaders in patient safety share their views on how the patient could be heard at every stage of health care planning and provision from the lecture theatre to the board room. Trust and empowerment are part of the answer but being able to hear the patient voice is critical.

Margaret supports undergraduate medical training and told stories of the students who enter the profession fired up and passionate about how they can make a difference but are soon dulled by the science and the reality of how hard the front line can be. Telling her own powerful story about the fatal errors that were made when her son was unwell reminded these young medics why they entered the profession in the first place and gave them a renewed sense of purpose.

This shared quote summed up the message…

Tell me a fact and I’ll learn

Tell me a truth and I’ll believe but …

Tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever

What do you think?

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