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Restorative Just Culture: a Study of the Practical and Economic Effects of Implementing Restorative Justice in an NHS Trust

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Restorative justice is an approach that aims to replace hurt by healing in the understanding that the perpetrators of pain are also victims of the incident themselves. In 2016, Mersey Care, an NHS community and mental health trust in the Liverpool region, implemented restorative justice (or what it termed a 'Just and Learning Culture') to fundamentally change its responses to incidents, patient harm, and complaints against staff. Although qualitative benefits from this implementation seemed obvious, it was also thought relevant to identify the economic effects of restorative justice. Through interviews with Mersey Care staff and collecting data pertaining to costs, suspensions, and absenteeism, an economic model of restorative justice was created. We found that the introduction of restorative justice has coincided with many qualitative improvements for staff, such as a reduction in suspensions and dismissals, increase in the reporting of adverse events, increase in the number of staff that feel encouraged to seek support and a slowing down of the upward trend in absence due to illness. It also improved staff retention. The economic benefits of restorative justice appear significant. After corrections for inflation, acquisitions and anomalies, we found that the salary costs averaged over two fiscal years were reduced by £ 4 million per year, coinciding with the introduction of a just and learning culture in 2016. In addition, Mersey Care reaped around £ 1 million in saved legal and termination expenses. We conservatively attribute half of these savings to the introduction of a just and learning culture itself, and the other half to non-related factors. Using this assumption, we estimate the total economic benefit of restorative justice in the case of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to be about £ 2.5 million or approximately 1% of the total costs and 2% of the labour costs.
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Restorative Just Culture: a Study of the Practical and
Economic Effects of Implementing Restorative Justice
in an NHS Trust
Mannat Kaur1, Robert J. de Boer1,2,*, Amanda Oates3, Joe Rafferty3
and Sidney Dekker1,4
1Art of Work Solutions Pty. Ltd., Brisbane, Australia
2Northumbria University Amsterdam Campus, the Netherlands
3Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool, UK
4Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
ABSTRACT
Restorative justice is an approach that aims to replace hurt by healing in the understanding that
the perpetrators of pain are also victims of the incident themselves. In 2016, Mersey Care, an NHS
community and mental health trust in the Liverpool region, implemented restorative justice (or what
it termed a ‘Just and Learning Culture’) to fundamentally change its responses to incidents, patient
harm, and complaints against staff. Although qualitative benefits from this implementation seemed
obvious, it was also thought relevant to identify the economic effects of restorative justice. Through
interviews with Mersey Care staff and collecting data pertaining to costs, suspensions, and
absenteeism, an economic model of restorative justice was created. We found that the introduction
of restorative justice has coincided with many qualitative improvements for staff, such as a
reduction in suspensions and dismissals, increase in the reporting of adverse events, increase in
the number of staff that feel encouraged to seek support and a slowing down of the upward trend
in absence due to illness. It also improved staff retention. The economic benefits of restorative
justice appear significant. After corrections for inflation, acquisitions and anomalies, we found that
the salary costs averaged over two fiscal years were reduced by £ 4 million per year, coinciding
with the introduction of a just and learning culture in 2016. In addition, Mersey Care reaped around
£ 1 million in saved legal and termination expenses. We conservatively attribute half of these
savings to the introduction of a just and learning culture itself, and the other half to non-related
factors. Using this assumption, we estimate the total economic benefit of restorative justice in the
case of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to be about £ 2.5 million or approximately 1% of the
total costs and 2% of the labour costs.*
Keywords: Restorative Justice; Economic Benefits; Health Care.
1. INTRODUCTION
In this paper, we report on the practical and economic effects of implementing a restorative
just culture in a medium sized NHS (National Health Service) trust in the north of England. Mersey
Care is a community and mental health trust providing care for a population of over 11 million
service users/patients in the North West of England and beyond. It is the largest provider of
forensic learning disability services and is one of the major providers of high secure services in
England. It employs about 8,000 staff members across more than 80 sites. In 2014, the disciplinary
actions pertaining to employee-relations at Mersey Care was notably high, and during this time, the
* Corresponding author: +31(0)621156269, robert.deboer@northumbria.ac.uk
* Trust turnover at the time was £ 260 million; in April 2018 this has grown to £ 360 million.
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© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
organization was focused on the disciplinary processes and intended to make them better and
faster. To this end, the emphasis was also given to increasing HR training within the organization.
However, by 2015, realizing that their current managerial and supervisory practices were not
leading to desired improvements (like reduction in disciplinary actions or the time-taken), Mersey
Care decided to fundamentally alter the way it responded to incidents (including suicides), patient
harm, violence and complaints made against staff. Responses had previously been driven by
human resource & patient safety policies and practices that mostly (if unwittingly) followed a
retributive just culture script—organized around rules, violations and consequences. This was
replaced, over a period of 18 months, with restorative justice focused on understanding, healing
and learning.
In a retributive just culture, the questions that are asked centre around culpability: it
assesses how bad (“reprehensible”) staff errors are; and accordingly administers proportional
consequences (Marx, 2001; Reason, 1997; Wachter & Pronovost, 2009). Such an arrangement
has been shown to put downward pressure on people’s willingness to come forward with bad
news, and to change what people share and how they tell their stories when they do (Dekker &
Hugh, 2010; Dekker & Laursen, 2007); it elides issues of substantive justice by ignoring broad staff
support and the fairness of the rules applied (Dekker & Breakey, 2016); it leaves the age-old
procedural question of ‘who draws the line’ fundamentally unresolved (Dekker, 2009); and is linked
less to justice than to organizational power: one’s position in the medical competence and
managerial hierarchies co-determines whether retributive responses are seen as ‘just’ (Dekker &
Nyce, 2013; von Thaden, Hoppes, Yongjuan, Johnson, & Schriver, 2006).
Restorative just culture, originating in a variety of ancient traditions, and with recent
applications to justice in for example schools and juvenile offending (Barton, 2003; Mulligan, 2009;
Weitekamp, 1999; Zehr & Gohar, 2002), asks very different questions: who is hurt; what do they
need; and whose obligation is it to meet those needs? The success of restorative responses
hinges on getting the community involved in collaboratively resolving those questions and arriving
at a solution that is respectful to all parties (Braithwaite, 1989), such as, patients, families,
caregivers, organizational representatives, regulators and legal and union representatives. It
considers accountability in a forward-looking (rather than punitive, backwards-looking) manner,
asking who needs to do what now, given their role and the expectations that come with it (Sharpe,
2003, 2004). Practices that reflect confession and repentance (e.g., reporting, disclosure, apology)
can precede forgiveness and re-engagement (Berlinger, 2005). In restorative justice, an account is
not seen as something that needs to be settled or paid, but as something that is told, shared and
learned from (Dekker, 2016). The goals of restorative justice include moral engagement of
stakeholders, reintegration of the caregiver into the community of practice, emotional healing of
those affected by the incident, and, ultimately, organizational learning and improvement.
1.1. The Changes at Mersey Care
Through detailed in-person interviews conducted on-site, researchers were able to find
common themes pertaining to the culture at Mersey care prior to the implementation of restorative
justice practices. Subsequently, the changes implemented 2015 onward were also identified along
with the commonly perceived effects of these implementations. The interview method is elaborated
in chapter 2.
Prior to the introduction of restorative justices at Mersey Care, staff reported a major fear of
being blamed for adverse events. Staff were not always telling the truth, and half of the clinical staff
acknowledged that they felt inhibited to speak out about adverse events. There was a sense
among staff that the organization was solely target-oriented and lacked openness and
compassion. Many incidents led to suspensions pending an investigation (sometimes leading to an
employment tribunal). The primary aim of the investigation was perceived to be to find a root cause
which was followed by a disciplinary investigation, suspension and dismissal or sanction.
Suspension was intended as a none-prejudicial act and as a measure to reduce risk pending an
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investigation but was perceived by staff as punishment. Costs associated with suspensions were
rising, as were legal costs, agency costs for backfill absenteeism and staff turnover.
Over a period of 18 months, Mersey Care developed and implemented the following
changes:
From investigations of supposed offenders to restorative conversations between all
stakeholders in the incident. This also involved a focus on myth/rumour busting by making
factual information available sooner to other staff, where previously it was common not to
share information during the investigation period.
Freeze of staff suspensions unless contraindicated by evidence of threat.
Culling judgmental language about staff performance from HR policies and procedures and
patient safety post-incident reviews. Reviewing them (invitation to all staff for feedback) for
clarity and necessity, and critically assessing them for the extent to which they actually
empower and enable staff.
Appointment (through self-nominations) of Just and Learning Culture lead to drive the
organisational agenda, represent and advocate restorative justice and recruit ambassadors
across the footprint.
Appointment (through self-nominations) and training of just-culture ambassadors to represent
and advocate for restorative justices across the trust’s multiple sites.
Revitalization of staff support through better advertising (like promotional banners, weekly
CEO blogs), psychological first aid, debriefings and follow-up. This included 72-hour reviews
(previously 5 working days), internal staff counselling services enabled to meet and connect
with teams (also via telephone) following a serious incident.
Sharing good practice stories (which are found by encouraging the staff to share their
experiences) through a new internal ‘just and learning culture’ microsite—including not only
clinical or operational successes but also lessons learnt, confessions made and gratitude
extended.
Encouraging the trickle-down of restorative just culture into everyday organizational life,
including back-office and administrative work.
Promoting just culture awareness through internal communication to affirm that things will be
dealt with differently now.
These changes have been the subject of workshops at Mersey Care and also documented in
various policy documents. This report is not intended to provide ways to achieve a cultural change.
It, however, focuses on the effects of these interventions and highlights the various benefits.
1.2. HR and other Policy Documents
Mersey Care – like all large institutions – relies on written procedures and policies for much
of its processes. These procedures generally serve five main purposes (Hale & Borys, 2013):
They are a memory aid for steps, especially in emergency situations
To facilitate coordination between multiple actors
As a basis for training
As organisational memory, for example as the starting point for innovation – “how did we do
that again?”
To enable the monitoring and checking of behaviour (for example to prevent High Impact -
Low-Frequency events)
Procedures are static but need to provide guidance under the varying circumstances of day-
to-day work. On the one hand, they need to offer sufficient guidance for practitioners, but on the
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other hand, the number of rule of exceptions (“non-compliances” or “violations”) that they provoke
needs to be minimised to retain credibility. We have looked at the following procedures:
HR01 – Disciplinary Procedure
HR07 – Management of attendance
HR37 – Supporting Colleagues
SA03 – Reporting, Management & Review of Adverse Incidents
Whereas judgmental language (holding staff strictly accountable by procedure and
compliance standards) was still present throughout Trust documentation, almost all procedures
and policies now explicitly refer to or attempt to embody the values of a just and learning culture.
Particularly the HR37 (Supporting Colleagues) policy is one that has been established as a result
of the just and learning culture and this change in reflected in the simple language of the policy and
a high emphasis on supporting staff. The organisation has refreshed all their organizational values
to embody the Just and Learning language and has introduced a new value of ‘Support which
specifically asks staff to raise concerns.
2. METHOD
The evaluation reported in this paper was conducted immediately after the implementation
period of restorative justice (which had lasted 18 months). The researchers had no role in the
operationalization of a ‘just and learning culture’ nor its practical implementation. They became
involved—for the purpose of this paper—to assess its effects.
Over two separate periods of in total nine full days, researchers were present at trust
headquarters as well as various sites. They were given unfettered access to accounting records,
policies and procedures, as well as staff members themselves. Staff interviewed included Mersey
Care’s CEO, Executive Director of Workforce, Head of Health and Well-Being, Deputy Director of
Workforce, Head of the Finance team, Business Intelligence team, Strategic Advisor Digital
Programmes, Staff Side Chair, Deputy Medical Director, Strategic Organizational Effectiveness
Lead and Head of Organizational Effectiveness and Learning. The aforementioned staff includes
members who worked directly worked with the sharp-end of the organization before and during the
implementation of restorative practices. Also included are those that recognized the retributive
culture and those who instigated and drove this cultural change within the organization. During
these interviews, the researchers focused on understanding the organization’s journey through an
(ongoing) cultural change and its perceived effects by the staff. The data analysis of staff
absenteeism, disciplinary cases etc. was performed after correcting the data for known changes in
the organization (such as acquisitions) to make the yearly numbers comparable. The costs
analysed were based on annual accounts split per division and corrected for inflation and for
acquisitions. The cost model was validated with Mersey Care staff before the savings calculations
were made. The associated costs for making the changes have been included as part of the total
operating costs of the organization and are therefore reflected in the economic analysis. The
policies assessed for this study were HR01 Disciplinary Procedure; HR07 Management of
Attendance; HR37 Supporting Colleagues; and SA03 Reporting, Management and Review of
Adverse Events.
3. RESULTS
3.1. Staff Experience
During the interviews with Mersey Care staff, and following up with the analysis of the data
such as disciplinary cases, incident reporting etc., we were able to identify numerous intangible
benefits resulting from the implementation of the just and learning culture at Mersey Care. Below
are examples of staff experience benefits that have been instigated or enabled by the
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organizational culture change:
Increase in good faith and sensemaking
Building trust within the different levels of the organization and also for the system
Staff feel more enabled and are aware that the system should be in place to enable them to
perform their best
Awareness of a just and learning culture within the organization helps diffuse stressful
situations and restore calm as staff knows things are changing
An understanding that there is no compassion for patients without compassion for staff
Increase in compassionate leadership
Increase in psychological safety within teams
Increase in understanding the relationship between teams’ psychological safety and patient
safety
No knee-jerk reaction to unexpected events
Prioritizing safety, physical and psychological, over all else (while “safety first” is a common
notion in high-risk places, a culture that truly accommodates for it is a different goal)
Reduction in psychological stress
Staff feels more engaged, open and able to speak up
Increased motivation
Changing perspective around accountability and human error
Tendency to find a local resolution
Increased sense of personal learning among staff
Increased staff engagement with senior leaders
Recognizing 2nd victims and providing support
Unblocking specific barriers that were affecting the staff’s ability to work in-line with Mersey
Care’s leadership programs
Making the process of special payments faster, thereby reducing psychological stress for the
involved parties
An open and accommodating work environment that facilitates honestly and learning
Increase in morale and job satisfaction
While not all, many of the above benefits can be substantiated by (cost) data analysis to
demonstrate the tangible and economic benefits generated by restorative practices. The next
sections detail the same. In these descriptions we have endeavoured to report relative rather than
absolute numbers to nullify scaling effects. Financial data has been corrected for acquisitions and
inflation. In other cases, we assume that the volume of staff and activities during the represented
time-period stay more-or-less the same.
3.2. Tangible (non-economic) Effects of Restorative Practice
All the data was corrected for known changes in the organization, like acquisition of several
smaller institutions through the years. This was done to make the yearly data comparable against
constant staff numbers to assess the effects of restorative interventions.
The implementation of restorative practice at Mersey Care has improved the quality of
employment for many staff members. The just and learning culture has had a strong downward
effect on the number of suspensions and disciplinary cases. In the period from April 2014 until
March 2018, the disciplinary and suspension cases for the two operational units at Mersey Care
was reduced from 66 before to 37 after the introduction of restorative practice. The just and
learning culture has also led to an increase in reporting adverse events of between 7% and 18%
per year from 2014 to 2017. We assume that the actual number of incidents occurring during the
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represented time-period stays more-or-less the same so that the increase in reports signals a more
open and trusting culture.
In a just and learning culture where trust, compassion and good faith have increased it is
expected that employees feel more encouraged to seek help. An increase in staff coming in for
support for face to face counselling has been determined after the introduction of restorative
justice: from an average of 283 requests per year in 2014 and 2015 to an average of 378 per year
for 2016 and 2017. Similarly, in the last two years after restorative practices were introduced, there
is a reduction in issues presented regarding bullying, career, formal procedures, health, job
situation, employment, trauma and violence/assaults.
Absence due to illness includes work-related and personal reasons for reporting absence. In
a just and learning culture, we expect three effects that influence absenteeism:
Less work-related pressure and more support from staff due to the trust and compassion,
possibly leading to a reduction in stress-related absenteeism.
Less reluctance to report sick for work when justified due to less work-related pressure and
more trust leading to an increase in justified absenteeism.
More support from the employer to reduce the duration of the absence, leading to a reduction
in absenteeism.
The net effect is expected to be a reduction in absenteeism. Indeed, with the introduction of
a just and learning culture, we see that there is a drop-in absence due to illness and the previously
increasing trend decelerates. The total effect is initially 0.5% point and grows to 1% point in 2017.
This data has been corrected for acquisitions as well as seasonal trends exhibited by sickness
reports which are mainly during the winter months. We have excluded maternity leave,
(un)authorized absence and other types of absences unrelated to sickness.
It is expected that as a result of the roll-out of the just and learning culture, staff retention is
improved, and turnover is reduced. The data on staff turnover is quite volatile but since early 2015
the reduction is visible, as shown in Figure 1.
.
Figure 1: Total staff turnover rate
This data excludes all retirements and has not been corrected for acquisitions. Note that
Mersey Care Trust is participating in the NHS Retention programme and has already been focused
on improving staff retention.
0%
1%
2%
3%
4%
5%
apr-14
jun-14
aug-14
okt-14
dec-14
feb-15
apr-15
jun-15
aug-15
okt-15
dec-15
feb-16
apr-16
jun-16
aug-16
okt-16
dec-16
feb-17
apr-17
jun-17
aug-17
okt-17
dec-17
feb-18
Restorative
Practice
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3.3. Economic Effects
As shown above, the implementation of restorative practices at Mersey Care has generated
various benefits. The total cost base of Mersey Care in fiscal year 2017/2018 is approximately
£ 250 million. Of this around 70% are costs for salaries. To enable a fair comparison with
preceding years the following corrections have been made:
Acquisitions have been excluded that Mersey Care has acquired over the last few years.
The costs have been corrected for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the
United Kingdom.
Table 1 shows the corrected total costs and salary costs for the past four fiscal years at
Mersey Care.
Table 1 Total costs and salary costs – raw data and corrected data
2014/2015
2015/2016
2016/2017
2017/2018
TOTAL OPERATING COSTS
£ 204 mio
£ 211 mio
£ 256 mio
£ 272 mio
TOTAL SALARY COSTS £ 150 mio £ 151 mio £ 163 mio £ 198 mio
% SALARY COSTS OF
OPERATING COSTS
74% 72% 64% 73%
TOTAL OPERATING COSTS
(corrected for acquisitions)
£ 204 mio £ 211 mio £ 228 mio £ 216 mio
TOTAL OPERATING COSTS
(corrected for acquisitions + inflation)
£ 212 mio £ 220 mio £ 235 mio £ 216 mio
TOTAL SALARY COSTS (corrected
for acquisition)
£ 150 mio £ 151 mio £ 139 mio £ 154 mio
TOTAL SALARY COSTS (corrected
for acquisition + inflation)
£ 157 mio £ 157 mio £ 143 mio £ 154 mio
% SALARY COSTS OF
OPERATING COSTS (corrected)
74% 72% 61% 72%
TOTAL OPERATING COSTS
(corrected & 16/17 impairment costs
smoothed out)
£ 212 mio £ 220 mio £ 218 mio £ 216 mio
% SALARY COSTS OF
OPERATING COSTS (corrected &
16/17 impairment costs smoothed
out)
74% 72% 66% 72%
A one-time cost for impairment was taken as part of operational costs in the fiscal year
2016/2017 and is unrelated to labour costs and restorative practice and has therefore been
smoothed out in the bottom two rows of the table. The salary cost is the annual gross basic pay
with no employer contributions or employee deductions. This figure does not include annual leave
allowance and neither does it account for allowances paid in addition to basic pay, which will
include shift allowances and ‘lead’ payments payable to staff who work in secure settings. This
data also excludes other indirect labour costs such as staff education and training etc.
The average salary cost in fiscal years 14/15 and 15/16 (£ 157 mio) is higher than the
average in fiscal years 16/17 and 17/18 (£ 148 mio). This signifies a reduction of about £ 9 mio or
£ 4 mio per year after correction of inflation, acquisitions and anomalies that coincides with the
introduction of a just and learning culture in 2016. A general reduction may be expected due to
productivity increases, and another part of this reduction is justified below for reduced illness leave
and less ‘suspension with pay’.
In April 2018 this has grown to £ 360 million.
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As explained above, an improvement in absence due to illness of at least 0.5% point has
coincided with the introduction of a just and learning culture to at Mersey Care after correcting for
acquisitions and seasonal trends. This should equal an economic value of 0.5% of the total labour
sum or £ 500,000. However, the sickness cost data shows a slightly more nuanced picture,
perhaps because the absence due to sickness shifts from lower paid wage scales to higher bands.
These expenses are £ 87,000 more in the year 2015/2016 vs the previous year, whereas in the
fiscal year 2017/2018 vs 2016/2017 we see total savings of £ 19,000. The difference according to
this estimate amounts to about £ 110,000 rather than £ 500,000. The total trend for ‘suspensions
with pay’ shows a clear reduction to coincide with the introduction of restorative practices as
reported above, amounting to approximately £ 50,000 per annum.
Other savings that coincide with the introduction of a just and learning culture include legal
costs and termination fees, which are additional to the savings in salary costs. There is a
significant reduction in the number of disciplinary cases and suspensions coinciding with the
introduction of a just and learning culture at Mersey Care, leading to a reduction in legal costs by £
270,000 from 2016/17 to 2017/18, where previously legal costs were actually increasing. These
include all expenditure on solicitors’ fees across the organisation and corporate negligence costs.
Similarly, termination costs have been significantly reduced by about
£ 700,000 after the introduction of a just and learning culture, exclusive of Mutually Agreed
Resignation Schemes costs.
In summary, after corrections for inflation and acquisitions, we have found that salary costs
improved around 2016 when the just and learning culture was introduced. About £4 million per
annum (2.2%. of total costs) savings were realized in staff costs, coinciding with the introduction of
restorative practice. The savings are in part due to higher productivity, as well as reduced illness
leave and less ‘suspension with pay’. Additionally, savings of around £ 1 million in legal and
termination costs have been identified to coincide with the introduction of the just and learning
culture.
We conservatively attribute half of that savings to the introduction of a just and learning
culture itself, and the other half to non-related factors. Using this assumption, we estimate the total
economic benefit of restorative practice in the case of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to
be about £ 2.5 million. This amounts to a meaningful saving as it is approximately 1% of the total
costs and 2% of the labour costs. These estimates are based on a relatively short window after the
introduction of restorative practice, and it remains to be seen whether these savings can be
sustained.
4. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
Implementation of restorative justice in Mersey Care has noticeable and apparently uniformly
beneficial consequences for staff and organization alike, and also shows economic benefits. The
intangible benefits include a downward effect (as expected) on the number of suspensions and
disciplinary cases, an increase in staff coming in for support for face to face counselling, a
reduction in absence due to illness, and improved staff retention. The economic effect is a
meaningful saving of approximately 1% of the total costs and 2% of the labour costs. In the
example of Mersey Care we see that after the move from a retributive just culture to a restorative
justice, the initial reluctance on people to come forward with bad news is overcome, as was
suggested by the literature (Dekker & Hugh, 2010; Dekker & Laursen, 2007).
While it would have been valuable to interview the sharp-end of the organization directly, the
perspective from the managerial end is equally valuable especially in the case where the
organization has recognized the gap between staff experience and the perception of it. These
interviews accommodated for the staff to share their personal journey during the organizational
culture change and speak openly about their experiences. Not only was this achieved, the
interviewees appeared forthcoming, positive about the cultural change and motivated to continue.
During the interviews, researchers were also able to identify some obstacles in the mobilization of
this cultural change. These included an initial level of distrust from all staff to come forward and
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share their experiences without fear of blame. This was overcome by increased engagement of the
managers with their staff, continued persistence and setting examples by doing things differently.
Another obstacle was the involvement of middle-managers in the cultural change. While the
researches did not investigate this further, it seemed to stem from the complicated tasks of middle-
managers that include being a bridge of coordination between both ends of the organization.
The estimates of this study are based on a relatively short window after the introduction of
restorative justice, and it remains to be seen whether these savings can be sustained for a longer
period. Given the unique setting, no benchmark information is available to cross-check our
estimates for the economic benefit of restorative practice. Some important goals of restorative
justice, however, have already been achieved, including moral engagement of stakeholders,
reintegration of the caregivers into his or her community of practice, emotional healing of those
affected by the incident, and, ultimately, organizational learning and improvement.
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MATEC Web of Conferences 273, 01007 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1051/matecconf/201927301007
ICSC-ESWC 2018
... 2. Trust; without trust, the possibility exists that potential reporters may be selective in the information they provide or in the worst case, may not report at all (Kaur, De Boer, Oates, Rafferty, & Dekker, 2019;Kirwan, Bettignies-Thiebaux, & Bolger, 2019). ...
... Of all the potential barriers to reporting of safety information, the one that dominates the safety literature is the effect of blame and reprisal, or a 'blame culture' (Catino, 2009;Gorini, Miglioretti, & Pravettoni, 2012;Heraghty et al., 2020;Karanikas & Chionis, 2017;Kaur et al., 2019;Khatri, Brown, & Hicks, 2009;Kirkup, 2019;Kirwan et al., 2018;Patankar et al., 2012;Reason, 1998;Stolzer et al., 2008). Numerous studies indicate a prominent barrier to reporting of error is fear of consequences. ...
... Employees need to feel that the information they report will be taken seriously and managed appropriately, and importantly, the effects of such information (e.g. does anyone act on this information) influences interpersonal trust (Kaur et al., 2019;Kirkup, 2019;Patankar et al., 2012). It is important to consider that only a small proportion of unsafe human acts are reprehensibly deliberate (e.g. ...
Thesis
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The collection of aviation safety information from those who encounter hazards and or commit an unsafe act is increasingly important to allow airlines to proactively apply risk mitigation measures in order to reduce risks to a level that is acceptable. Safety information that is provided from the flight crew has the potential to be highly descriptive and contextualised to the perspective of the front line operator, aiding the identification and interpretation of hazardous conditions that may be present in the system. The effectiveness of an airline’s safety risk management is highly dependent on the voluntary reporting of safety information. However, there is anecdotal evidence that some pilots refrain from reporting safety-related information because they are fearful that the data they voluntarily report may be used against them for punitive purposes. Hence, the aim of the present research is to investigate reporting behaviour of flight crew, their trust in their airline’s ‘just culture’, and to identify reasons why pilots choose not to report safety information. The research comprised four studies. A large number of respondents, 270 Australian-based, and 539 European-based commercial pilots participated in the research. The results of the first two studies (AU and EU) reveal that fifty-three per cent of the Australian pilots and thirty-three per cent of the European pilots had either under-reported or failed to report safety related information in their airlines’ Safety Management System. Fear of reprisal from employer was identified as the leading reason for under-reporting or failing to report by the two pilot groups. The aim of study 3 and 4 is to investigate the foundation of this fear. Very little evidence of actual reprisal or punishment is revealed from the respondents. However, pilots perceive the airlines’ actions in meeting its compliance and standards responsibilities (i.e., remedial training and incident investigation) as punitive in nature. These results highlight that there is a lack of understanding about the differences between punitive action and action to meet compliance and standards responsibility amongst flight crew. It is unclear, however, if this lack of understanding results from the airline failing to communicate this information correctly, or from pilots distrust of management. The study results reveal many pilots lack trust and confidence in the principle of a just culture. The results also highlight that the principles underlying a just culture are misunderstood, which are likely to be affecting its successful implementation.
... For example, the implementation of a 'restorative just culture' at one NHS Trust in England aimed to 'fundamentally change the response to incidents, patient harm and complaints'. 24 The approach responded to poor staff engagement and focused on improving the worker experience of disciplinary processes, incidents and complaints; an evaluation concluded that a range of positive economic, workforce outcomes was associated with this approach. 24 However, given the study design, findings should be interpreted cautiously. ...
... 24 The approach responded to poor staff engagement and focused on improving the worker experience of disciplinary processes, incidents and complaints; an evaluation concluded that a range of positive economic, workforce outcomes was associated with this approach. 24 However, given the study design, findings should be interpreted cautiously. Further, we view the lack of inclusion of the patient and family voice as problematic, if the goal is to fundamentally change the response to healthcare harm for all involved. ...
Article
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Background: Healthcare is not without risk. Despite two decades of policy focus and improvement efforts, the global incidence of harm remains stubbornly persistent, with estimates suggesting that 10% of hospital patients are affected by adverse events. Methods: We explore how current investigative responses can compound the harm for all those affected—patients, families, health professionals and organizations—by neglecting to appreciate and respond to the human impacts. We suggest that the risk of compounded harm may be reduced when investigations respond to the need for healing alongside system learning, with the former having been consistently neglected. Discussion: We argue that incident responses must be conceived within a relational as well as a regulatory framework, and that this—a restorative approach—has the potential to radically shift the focus, conduct and outcomes of investigative processes. Conclusion: The identification of the preconditions and mechanisms that enable the success of restorative approaches in global health systems and legal contexts is required if their demonstrated potential is to be realized on a larger scale. The policy must be co‐created by all those who will be affected by reforms and be guided by restorative principles.
... 6 Others have highlighted the emotional impact of medical errors and subsequent investigations on healthcare professionals and the need for restorative justice within a just culture. [7][8][9] A prospective focus on learning and healing is more central in this approach instead of a retrospective focus on understanding the error and whether individuals should be held accountable. 10 Finally, some conceptualise just culture as a culture in which employees feel free to speak up and voice concerns, not only after errors have occurred but whenever they feel the quality of care might be at risk. ...
Article
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Objectives A just culture is considered a promising way to improve patient safety and working conditions in the healthcare sector, and as such is also of relevance to healthcare regulators who are tasked with monitoring and overseeing quality and safety of care. The objective of the current study is to explore the experiences in healthcare organisations regarding the role of the healthcare inspectorate in enabling a just culture. Design Qualitative study using interviews and focus groups that were transcribed verbatim, and observations of which written reports were made. Transcripts and observation reports were thematically analysed. Setting Three mental healthcare providers, two hospitals and the healthcare inspectorate in the Netherlands. Participants We conducted 61 interviews and 7 focus groups with healthcare professionals, managers and other staff in healthcare organisations and with inspectors. Additionally, 27 observations were conducted in healthcare organisations. Results We identified three themes in our data. First, professionals and managers in healthcare organisations perceive the inspectorate as a potential catalyst for learning processes, for example, as an instigator of investigating incidents thoroughly, yet also as a potential barrier as its presence and procedures limit how open employees feel they can be. Second, a just culture is considered relational and layered, meaning that relationships between different layers within or outside the organisation might hinder or promote a just culture. Finally, for inspectors to enable a just culture requires finding a balance between allowing organisations the time to take responsibility for quality and safety issues, and timely regulatory intervention when healthcare providers are unwilling or unable to act. Conclusions If regulators intend to enable the development of a just culture within healthcare organisations, they must adopt regulatory procedures that support reflection and learning within the organisations they regulate and consider mutual trust as a vital regulatory tool.
... It appears, then, that cultivating a restorative culture in health organisations would have considerable social and economic benefits and encourage a positive safety culture in which people feel safe to raise and respond to concerns. 27 However, providing opportunities for consumers and health providers to meet after a harmful event are often resisted, frequently because of legal or reputational concerns. 28,29 This makes careful preparation and the provision of ongoing psychological support for all the parties involved all the more important. ...
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Fun guide to life after pediatric residency
Article
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Background: The notion of “just culture” has become a way for hospital administrations to determine employee accountability for medical errors and adverse events. Method: In this paper, we question whether organizational justice can be achieved through algorithmic determination of the intention, volition and repetition of employee actions. Results and conclusion: The analysis in our paper suggests that the construction of evidence and use of power play important roles in the creation of “justice” after iatrogenic harm.
Book
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Article
A ‘just culture’ aims to respond to anxiety about blame-free approaches on the one hand, and a concern about people’s willingness to keep reporting safety-related issues on the other. A just culture sets out the conditions that legitimize managerial intervention in the sanction or restoration of individuals in the organization. In this paper we examine the manifestly important moral and safety issues that a just culture needs to consider. These include substantive justice which prescribes how regulations, rules and procedures themselves are fair and legitimate; procedural justice which sets down processes for determining rule-breaches, offers protections for the accused, and governs who should make such determinations; and restorative justice which aims to restore the status of the individual involved and heal relationships and injuries of victims and the wider community in the wake of an ethical breach.
Article
Medical error is a leading problem of health care in the United States. Each year, more patients die as a result of medical mistakes than are killed by motor vehicle accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS. While most government and regulatory efforts are directed toward reducing and preventing errors, the actions that should follow the injury or death of a patient are still hotly debated. According to Nancy Berlinger, conversations on patient safety are missing several important components: religious voices, traditions, and models. In After Harm, Berlinger draws on sources in theology, ethics, religion, and culture to create a practical and comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of patients, families, and clinicians affected by medical error. She emphasizes the importance of acknowledging fallibility, telling the truth, confronting feelings of guilt and shame, and providing just compensation. After Harm adds important human dimensions to an issue that has profound consequences for patients and health care providers.