A practical guide to growing our abilities in Shared Decision Making

Lawrence Mudford
CPOC Patient Representative

Lawrence Mudford has had a 38-year healthcare career working as a dentist and dental educator within both primary and secondary care. This has included serving on the board of the Faculty of General Dental Practice and as a member of the General Dental Council.

Health professionals are caring, vocational, compassionate - but also in my experience, and I am a healthcare professional myself - great advice givers!

I have designed, developed and taught courses in person centred care for the past 15 years, and have often recognised that as professionals we can sometimes be, how can I put it delicately, good at assisting people in their choices of medical care, based primarily on how 'we' see their needs.
How refreshing therefore to see a course being advertised that has, as its focus, Shared Decision Making (SDM) with a emphasis on how as professionals, we can take strides forward in putting the patient at the centre of all decisions. I just had to sign up and wasn't disappointed.

If I was the generalise, the course was completely patient focused throughout, provided foundational principles of SDM and encouraged the participants to gain insight into their level of understanding of the roles of both patient and clinician in coming to decisions together about the best health choices for a patient . The virtual environment, I thought might impact on the learning but I did not find that to be the case. In fact, it had many benefits.

The first part of the session brought together three outstanding speakers Nadine Montgomery, Alf Collins and Ramai Santhirapala.  Each brought a fresh perspective to SDM and, not surprisingly, Nadine was very poignant and moving when she spoke about the personal circumstances surrounding the 'Montgomery ruling'.

Each speaker gave practical and valued insights to how SDM can support and empower a patient in their decisions for treatment or, in some cases, their decision not to proceed in treatment options. The use of BRAN and 'three questions' was prominent from all speakers.

The second part consisted of three interactive workshops where we all had the opportunity to role play as patient and clinician. This is always a sobering role when you are the patient!  Skills were rehearsed in the vital aptitude to carry out active listening, engage the patient in their own needs and use lay phrases to explain treatments and concepts to patients. For many on the course, this was a 'light-bulb' moment when they recognised that their style of consultation may have been to focused on 'advice' from their experiences, rather than taking time to understand what was important for the patient.
So, how would I sum up the course? Great course, great content, great energy and drive from those presenting. And enjoyable.

Why not look to put this on your New Year list of CPD and get more involved in Shared Decision Making for 2021? The courses are run at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Centre of Perioperative Care.

Find out more on the course here

View our CPOC resources on SDM