NHS Manchester University

SAGE & THYME model and benefits

SAGE & THYME  is a mnemonic that acts as an aid memoire for a structured conversation with a person in distress or with concerns.  ‘SAGE’ gets the user into the conversation and ‘THYME’ gets them out.

The SAGE & THYME model/structure

If you notice concern - think first of the setting, create some privacy - sit down.
“Can I ask what you are concerned about?”
Gather all of the concerns - not just the first few - “Is there something else?”
Respond sensitively - “You have a lot on your mind.”
“Who do you have to talk to or support you?”
“How do they help?”
“What do YOU think would help?”
“Is there something you would like ME to do?”
Summarize and close - “Can we leave it there?”


About the workshop
Use of the SAGE & THYME structure is taught in a 3 hour SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop run by 3 facilitators/2 hour 45 min SAGE & THYME Online workshop run by 2 facilitators.  In the workshop, up to 30 (Foundation Level)/20 (Online) participants learn how to use evidence-based skills when listening and responding to concerns.


Learning implemented into practice
The workshop format was informed by Social Learning Theory and therefore has several elements to encourage learning that will be implemented into practice:

  • Participant attention is maintained by combining lectures, group discussion and rehearsals.
  • Retention is assisted by a clear structure (the mnemonic ‘SAGE & THYME’), which is reiterated through rehearsals/films and provided in the delegate packs.
  • Participants reproduce the training by interacting with two rehearsals of a health or social care worker dealing with a concerned simulated patient.
  • The scenarios used for rehearsal (Foundation Level only) are suggested by the participants to make them relevant.
  • Participants are motivated to change their behaviour by learning about the evidence on the impact of effective communication on patients (perceived outcome and usefulness of the skills), and by the process of group reflection.


The SAGE & THYME Foundation Level/Online workshops teach the knowledge and skills related to the following: 

  • Four of the six key skills advocated by NHS England in the 6Cs: care, compassion, confidence and communication
  • For nurses and midwives - sections 2 and 3 of 'The Code' (2015)
  • For doctors - domain 3 of the 'GMC: Good Medical Practice' (2013)
  • For allied health professionals - section 7 of the 'Health and Care Professions Council: Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics' (2012)
  • For managerial and administrative staff, volunteers and others - the skills of listening and responding are the foundation of good customer service


The benefits of running the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level/Onine workshops are as follows:

  • Provides evidence based communication skills training to all levels of staff
  • Gives a structured and quick approach for dealing with the concerns of patients and carers
  • Using SAGE & THYME model in clinical practice/other suituations can empower the worried person
  • Significantly increase staff confidence, perceived competence and willingness to talk about concerns
  • Short course - only 3 hours
  • Can be attended by 20-30 people


See participant testimonials

Find out more about the format of the workshop

Find out how to run a workshop in your organisation

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