Situation Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) Collaborative

CPD Credits21

Join SAFE and improve safety in your hospital

“Safety is the ability of a system to sustain required operations under both expected and unexpected conditions. Safety is what we do every day.”

Erik Hollnagel

Situation Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) is a collaborative programme facilitated by expert faculty and clinical leads to improve communication, build a safety culture and enhance outcomes for patients in Irish hospitals.

Based on the success of four previous iterations, and in collaboration with the Deteriorating Patient Improvement Programme, the Office of Nursing and Midwifery Services Director has agreed to fund a new cohort of the SAFE collaborative learning programme. 

The collaborative will start in September 2022 and we are inviting clinical team to join. The SAFE programme represents an excellent opportunity for multidiciplinary frontline clinical teams to further develop quality improvement (QI) and patient safety skills to tackle a specific problem area in an early warning system of their choice.

As well as QI theory, the SAFE programme includes situation awareness methodology and the planning or improving of safety huddles on the wards.

"SAFE is about people. It’s about the people providing and receiving care. One of the key things to remember is that healthcare is not always reactive. SAFE marries the theory of prediction with the Irish early warning tools and systems and allows earlier decisions to be made regarding care. Hierarchies are flattened, all views are important. Lives can be saved"

In conversation with Peter Lachman, Lead Faculty, QI RCPI

What is the Early Warning System (EWS) SAFE Collaborative?

It is a short-term learning system that brings together teams from different hospital sites to seek improvement in early warning systems. Subject matter experts work together with improvement experts, using quality improvement methodology to implement changes at the front line of healthcare.

The dedicated SAFE faculty will facilitate your team’s SAFE journey using the methodology and will support you in working through your SAFE project in your own setting.

"The Implementation of the Irish National Early Warning System of Care requires all acute hospitals to develop a systems approach to the management of the clinically deteriorating patient. The SAFE programme provides participants with the tools to form safety huddles with their team. Safety Huddles provide a platform to anticipate and communicate clinical concern, creating a culture of psychological safety for staff and through small actions deliver big impact."

Avilene Casey, RSCN, RGN, MSc, RCSI Fellow (Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery); National Lead Deteriorating Patient Recognition & Response Improvement Programme (DPIP); SPSP Fellow (Healthcare Improvement, NHS Scotland)

Watch a video showing how the St Luke's Hospital Kilkenny established their huddle

How is the SAFE Collaborative delivered?

This 6-day blended learning programme (one full day, five half days) is delivered by expert faculty. All learners are expected to attend each session with their team and conduct a safety huddle implementation or improvement initiative in their workplace.

The first session will be a full day in-person in RCPI No6 Kildare Street in September 2022, followed by five afternoon learning sessions from October 2022 to February 2023. These sessions will involve lectures, case studies, interactive group activities and project-based learning.

Why do SAFE?

When you join the SAFE Collaborative, you will work within your teams with expert faculty to achieve the following aims:

  • Reduce avoidable error and harm to acutely unwell patients
  • Improve communication between individuals involved in patient care
  • Improve the working culture for healthcare staff providing patient care in your setting
  • Increase the involvement of patients and families in their care

Your team will be taught how to implement an innovative improvement bundle. The bundle improves safety through interventions such as the Irish National Early Warning System (INEWS), effective communication, and short, tailored 5 – 10 minute huddles.

Please submit your application by 8 August 2022

Who can apply?

The new cohort is open to multidisciplinary teams working with any early warning system from adult, maternity, neonatal, paediatric or emergency care settings and from new or previously participating hospitals.

To support front line staff during the ongoing pandemic and impending winter flu season and in line with winter initiatives, we are particularly interested in hearing from teams caring for inpatients on Covid units, respiratory wards and wards with acutely ill patients.

Your SAFE team should include four members, representing senior clinical decision makers and key care providers to suit your setting.

Each member of the team must be able to exert organisational change within their institution. At least one consultant and one senior nurse must participate.

SAFE teams should expect to meet briefly at least weekly for the duration of the collaborative. During the COVID pandemic, team meetings were facilitated by virtual platforms which made meetings shorter and easier.

We already have huddles – what’s different about the SAFE huddle?

Many teams will already be familiar with the concept of huddles or safety initiatives such as the HSE Safety Pause. This is encouraging but there is often room for improvement in an existing huddle or an opportunity for development of a bespoke SAFE huddle to target specific patient safety concerns. Previous SAFE teams have done both with great success.

Here is some of what our recent graduates had to say:

  • "It facilitated closed loop communication among the different specialities within the hospital"
  • "Reduced the ward hierarchy and allows any member of the team to advocate for patients and their safety"
  • "The SAFE programme gave us a platform to identify and escalate issues daily and then find strategies to manage issues that arise"
  • "We do a huddle in the mornings with managers and obstetric team, helps communication and anticipating patients we are worried about"

What is expected of us as a SAFE team?

Although this course is delivered remotely, teams are strongly encouraged to come together in person to attend the virtual learning sessions in a room with AV facilities. Teams who have taken this approach have tended to achieve far better outcomes. 

As a SAFE team, you will be expected to:

  • attend all scheduled learning sessions
  • meet regularly as a team
  • be actively involved in the design and implementation of the huddle implementation or improvement initiative in your workplace.

What supports are in place for the teams?

All team members will be enrolled onto Brightspace, the RCPI virtual learning environment. Brightspace will be used to communicate with teams, provide programme content; resources, references and templates; and teams will be able to upload their ‘homework’ tasks ahead of each learning session.

Our expert faculty provide team-based coaching using the Microsoft Teams platform to support teams between sessions, address and mitigate challenges and encourage engagement with the learning.

What are the learning session dates?







Learning Session 1           

13 September 2022         

In-person, No6 Kildare Street         

9.30 - 16:30             

Learning Session 2

11 October 2022

Virtual via Zoom

13.00 - 16.30

Learning Session 3

08 November 2022

Virtual via Zoom

13.00 – 16.30

Learning Session 4

13 December 2022

Virtual via Zoom

13.00 – 16.30

Learning Session 5

19 January 2023

Virtual via Zoom

13.00 – 16.30

Learning Session 6

28 February 2023

In-person, No6 Kildare Street

13.00 – 16.30

Register your interest in joining SAFE

To register your interest in joining SAFE in September 2021, please complete the application form below on behalf of your team and email it to You should hear from us within 3 working days.

Please submit your application by 8 August 2022

If you would like to speak to someone about SAFE before applying please contact the RCPI Quality Improvement Department at


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