University Hospital of South Manchester

Welcome to SAGE & THYME ®

“This course should be part of mandatory training!  I have worked for my NHS organisation for 37 years and never been taught how to listen to patients until today.”

The SAGE & THYME ® model was developed by clinical staff at the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) and a patient in 2006.  It was designed to train all grades of staff how to listen and respond  to patients/clients or carers who are distressed or concerned. It places published research evidence about effective communication skills within a memorable structure for clinical practice.

‘SAGE & THYME’ is a mnemonic which guides healthcare professional/care workers into and out of a conversation with someone who is distressed or concerned.  It provides structure to psychological support by encouraging the health worker to hold back with advice and prompting the concerned person to consider their own solutions..

SAGE & THYME is designed for foundation level communication, suitable for any member of staff  (e.g. medical secretary, outpatient clerk, nurse, physiotherapist, doctor, social worker, student) and for any specialty.  It is suitable to be used with patients and carers, students, colleagues and children – anyone who is distressed or concerned – inside and outside of health and social care.

SAGE & THYME is taught in a 3 hour ‘SAGE & THYME foundation level’ (sometimes abbreviated to 'S&T FL' on this site) workshop for up to 30 participants using three facilitators.  It provides key communication skills training to NHS staff and other professionals working with patients or other people with concerns.

UHSM teaches and licences other organisations (e.g. NHS Trusts, hospices, universities) to deliver SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops in collaboration with TRUSTECH.

In collaboration with the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Network, UHSM has developed a new workshop  called 'SAGE & THYME ACP'.  During the workshop, learners focus on effective communication skills that help to open an advance care planning conversation.  The structure provides a consultation guide as concerns and issues are disclosed.  The workshop lasts for 3.5 hours and is suitable for people such as GPs and community matrons who have experience of advance care planning.  

To see the full list of pages on our web site, click on the 'About SAGE & THYME tab' and the menu will appear on the left hand side. Click on a white text heading in the menu to see a full list of pages under that heading (shown in black text); or use the 'search' function at the top right hand side of the page.

Find out more about SAGE & THYME foundation level

Find out more about us

Find out more about running SAGE & THYME foundation level in your organisation

Find out more about SAGE & THYME ACP

Impact on patient

“Patient (was) becoming upset (and) I ask them why they were upset and if there is anything I could do to help.  I gave them time to speak it was only a small thing they had not had a bowel movement for days and was getting stomach ache.  The patient was embarrassed about this I asked was there anything else but they were really concerned and thought that it might be something else i.e. cancer.  I listened to the patient and asked if it would be alright to speak to the nurse.  Senacot [was] given to help them go.”


S&T foundation level workshop participant

Latest news

Nursing Times review - importance of advance care planning

5 January 2017

The Nursing Times has just published a review on the benefits and barriers of ensuring patients with life-limiting diseases have advance care planning. Advance care planning allows people to be more aware of that they may die, consider their options, and make choices about their end of life care whilst they still have the capacity to do so. It also increases the use of palliative care services, which focuses on symptom management and can increase quality of life for the patient and their family.

The report highlights that despite the benefits of advance care planning, a recent survey found that only 5% of people have an advance care plan or living will. The barriers to discussing end of life include: the difficulty in initiating conversations; lack of clarity regarding which healthcare professional is responsible; determining when the discussion is needed; the worry about upsetting the patient; and knowing which documents to use to record the patient's wishes.

The review explains that it is important that nurses and doctors have the right training so that they can initiate and manage conversations about advance care planning. The SAGE & THYME for Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care workshop gives clinicians an evidence-based, memorable, structured approach that they can immediately use with their patients.

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