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News headlines

International Conference on Communication in Healthcare presentation on SAGE & THYME Online

12 September 2022

Our lead trainer, Mike Connolly, spoke at the ICCH conference in Glasgow on Friday (9 September) about how 'SAGE & THYME works fine online'.

The presentation abstract was co-authored with Dr Joanne Thomas (S&T business lead), Dr Nicky Barr and Sheona Ramsbottom (S&T trainers).

Mike talked about how, whilst the knowledge being taught was the same for SAGE & THYME Online as for the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop, the delivery was different.

Teaching foundation level communication skills online required:

  • checking that the learner's tech was OK and ensuring they knew how to use Zoom
  • a dramatic introduction
  • a PowerPoint presentation delivered in a conversational-style by two trainers
  • a video of a conversation (rather than live rehearsals), stopped at various points for discussion
  • polls and breakout rooms
  • direct questions to learners

For more information on our evaluation of SAGE & THYME Online, please contact us.

Mike Connolly at the ICCH conference

Communication and preceptorship in nursing

18 August 2022

Preceptorship is the supported transitionary period for newly registered nurses, midwives and nursing associates, to develop confidence and competence in practice, whilst continuing with professional development.

A preceptoship framework (developed by CapitalNurse) that recommends a set of standards based on best-practice for preceptorship has been adopted by all health and social care organisations in London.

The framework covers nine domains for preceptorship development (e.g. team work, clinical practice) and one of the domains is communication.

This includes understanding communication techniques around sharing of health and care related information and having courageous conversations with patients.

The SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop teaches: active listening, gaining information from the patient before giving new information to them, and how to support patients with their worries and concerns.

Therefore, teaching SAGE & THYME to newly qualified nurses, midwives and nursing associates can help to comply with the framework.

Nurse speaking on the telephone

Improving staff health and wellbeing using SAGE & THYME

29 June 2022

Talking about worries using the SAGE & THYME structure can help a person to think more clearly and understand the support they have.

But did you know that staff can also benefit from using SAGE & THYME in conversations?

Our qualitiative research shows that staff feel more in control and satisfied that they have helped others when they talk to people who are worried or upset using SAGE & THYME.

Read more by clicking here.

Balls showing different emotions

ICCH abstract on SAGE & THYME Online accepted

20 April 2022

Our abstract 'SAGE & THYME works fine online' has been accepted as an oral presentation at the 20th International Conference on Communication in Healthcare, to be held at Glasgow Caledonian University, 6th – 9th September 2022.

Our lead trainer, Mike Connolly, will be presenting our evaluation of learner feedback on the SAGE & THYME Online workshop.


SAGE & THYME Online - delegate feedback results

16 December 2021

We have evaluated feedback from 18 SAGE & THYME Online workshops run, with 214 of the 255 attendees (84%) completing an online feedback survey.

In summary:

  • 99% of learners felt that the training would influence their practice
  • 99% felt more confident about listening and responding to concerns
  • 95% felt more willing to talk to emotionally troubled people after the training
  • 93% would definitely recommend the training to others

We have produced an infographic summarising the findings.

The infographic can be downloaded from here.

SAGE & THYME Team Office Christmas Closure 2021

1st December 2021

Please note that the SAGE & THYME office will close for Christmas on the afternoon of Thursday 23rd December 2021 and will re-open on Tuesday 4th January 2022.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


Digital pack for SAGE & THYME training delegates

16 August 2021

We are pleased to announce that we are replacing our paper delegate packs with a new digital pack that can be emailed to people attending the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop or the SAGE & THYME Online workshop.

The digital pack offers the following benefits:

  • Save space – no need to store paper packs
  • Save time – easier to share the packs with delegates
  • Eco-friendly - reduces paper use and transport of packs, and results in lower carbon dioxide emissions
  • Easier access – packs can be accessed from anywhere if copies are stored in the cloud
  • Never run out

The pack will be made available to all new SAGE & THYME customers and to existing customers when they pay the appropriate licence renewal fees.

Image of SAGE and THYME training digital pack

BBC Newscast mentions SAGE & THYME

27 May 2021

SAGE & THYME has been mentioned in a BBC podcast about how Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Scientific Adviser Department of Health and Social Care, had inspired some young people to apply to study medicine.

A medical student named SAGE & THYME along with Calgary-Cambridge model, when she was listing different communication models in the BBC Newscast episode ‘Whitty Banter’ on 21 May.

This podcast highlights how SAGE & THYME is an established method for communicating with worried people.

Image by StockSnap from PixaBay

SAGE & THYME contribution to COVID recovery plans

6 May 2021

Following the high level of COVID cases in the UK and intense pressure on NHS staff over the winter, the NHS is now planning its recovery.

This is focussing on rebuilding services, reducing waiting times and supporting staff whose health and well being has been affected by the pandemic.

Using SAGE & THYME in conversations can support this recovery as follows:

  • Waiting times: when speaking to patients about their concerns related to the impact of having their procedures or treatment delayed due to long waiting times
  • Service changes: when explaining that the service patients access is being changed or moved to a new location, and they are worried about how they will cope with this
  • Staff well being: staff report feeling more confident, in control and satisfied when they are able to support a patient using the SAGE & THYME structure in a conversation. 

We now deliver SAGE & THYME training online - click here for more info.

Man with his hands covering his face
Image by Malgorzata Tomczak from Pixabay

NHS England guide to communicating with patients

10 February 2021

The waves of coronavirus hospitalisations have caused waves of cancelled and delayed hospital appointments, investigations and treatments.

As a result, NHS England has recently published guidance about how hospitals should communicate with the people who have had their appointments and services displaced.

"Hospitals should invest in developing patient-centred information and communication" say NHS England; "Providers and their boards must ensure that these principles are applied consistently and equitably".

Our 14 years of experience researching, teaching and disseminating the attitudes and skills of ‘personalised, patient-centred communication’ through SAGE & THYME workshops, may be of service to the NHS staff who are making the phone calls, explaining the delays and hearing the worries.

We now have a 2 h 45 min online SAGE & THYME communication skills workshop available - click here for more information.

Image by Thomas B. from Pixabay 

Online SATFAC is now available!

7 January 2021

We are pleased to announce that organisations wishing to run SAGE & THYME Online workshops can now do so, after their staff have attended an Online SATFAC and passed the associated assessment.

Find out more about the course here.

Click here for the training dates.

SAGE & THYME Team Office Christmas Closure

10 December 2020

Please note that the SAGE & THYME office will close for Christmas on the afternoon of Thursday 24th December 2020 and will re-open on Monday 4th January 2021.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


SAGE & THYME Online is here

20 October 2020

We launched the resources needed to run SAGE & THYME Online to our licensed organisations last month, to enable existing SAGE & THYME facilitators to teach SAGE & THYME Online to their own staff, students and volunteers. 

The resources included guides on using the tech (Zoom), the content and process behind the training, and running a workshop step by step.  We also created two training films: one on using the tech and one for facilitators running the training; along with information for delegates on preparing to learn online and a certificate of attendance.

We are now in the process of finalising dates for the training that we, at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, run that anyone can book on to - please contact us if you would like to book a place.  Dates will be on our website shortly.

We are also able to run SAGE & THYME Online for any organisation that has around 20 people wishing to receive the training (who can get access to a PC/laptop with a webcam and is able to use Zoom) - please contact us for a quote.

Video conference - picture by Aleandra Koch from Pixabay
Image by Alexandra Koch from Pixabay


SAGE & THYME Online is coming!

19 August 2020

We are pleased to announce that SAGE & THYME Online, the equivalent of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level, will be available shortly.

Organisations already running SAGE & THYME training will already be aware of some of the developments we have made.

We will be posting more details on our web site within the next month or so.

If you are interested in accessing this training, please contact us.

Image by Kevin Phillips from Pixabay

Coping with COVID-19 anxiety

6 April 2020

Many health workers are currently feeling anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have therefore created two short films (5 minutes or less) to provide some support:

  • the first can be used by individuals to help them work through their worries
  • the second can be used by team leaders to support staff who are anxious.

To access the films, click here.

COVID-19 - Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Training for non-clinical GP staff

25 February 2020

Non-clinical GP practice staff can now benefit from brief communication skills training for end of life care, developed by Mike Connolly in the SAGE & THYME Team.

The training is part of a package of resources aimed at quality improvement in end of life care, provided by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

It supports the RCGP and Marie Curie Daffodil standards for advances serious illness and end of life care and provides some guidance on how receptionists, healthcare assistants, administrators and other non-clinical staff, can listen to and communicate better with patients.

The training can be accessed free of charge here (under multi-professional short screencasts).

New scenario films available

6 January 2020

We are pleased to announce that we have created three new scenario films for use in the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop, to demonstrate how 'SAGE & THYME' can structure conversations in different situations.

The three new films demonstrate:

  • a volunteer conversation with a patient
  • a medical student speaking to patient
  • friends talking

These films are now available on the trainer area of the website under the menu heading 'Scenario films' for use by authorised SAGE & THYME Facilitators.

Second year medical student speaking to patient

SAGE & THYME Team Office Christmas Closure

17 December 2019

Please note that the SAGE & THYME office will close for Christmas on the afternoon of Friday 20th December 2019 and will re-open on Monday 6th January 2020.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!


Accessible delegate materials

14 October 2019

We are pleased to announce that we have created an audio description of the Cleveland Clinic empathy film (that is shown in the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop) for visually impaired people.

It is suggested that such delegates are informed of the link before the workshop, so that they can download the recording on to their phone, to listen to, either before the training, or whilst the film is playing during the workshop (if they bring earphones/headphones).

The audio description is in addition to the other delegate resources we have already created for people with impairments (e.g. dyslexia, blindness).

All SAGE & THYME facilitators can have access to these materials by contacting us directly, or by visiting the trainer area of this web site for more information.

Accessibility image - Image by Cris Renma from Pixabay

Final Study Day programme announced

3 October 2019

The final programme for the annual SAGE & THYME (S&T) Study Day has been announced and can be downloaded from the news page.

The morning session will include presentations from the team on: a general update on the S&T programme; how to sell, introduce and promote S&T in resistant organisations; and why learners can be challenging.

External speakers, Dr Sarah Shepherd, from the University of Manchester and Lynn McCullagh from London South Bank University, will present on their experiences of teaching S&T to students and staff.

After a networking lunch, the afternoon session will include an interactive discussion on how facilitator behaviour affects learner behaviour; launch of the new scenario films, and a Q&A.

Early bird places as £60 per person will be available until Wed 16 October, after that, the fee is £80 per person.

Contact us to book a place.

Mike Connolly speaking at 2018 Study Day

Skills for Health promote SAGE & THYME training

21 August 2019

Skills for Health is a not-for-profit organisation that provides education and training for the healthcare workforce, to provide staff with the skills they need to improve patient care.

They have a number of resources available to the NHS and to independent and voluntary organisations.

Their Cancer Communications Interactive Resource has been developed as a guide for those who care for people affected by cancer.

But they point out that the guide is also good practice, when working with and caring for people with other health and long-term conditions.

The SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop is listed on the Communication Resource Hub as communication training that can help staff:


Image representing learning and skills

Programme released for annual Study Day

5 August 2019

We have now released the programme for the annual Study Day for SAGE & THYME facilitators and organisers, taking place on Wednesday 27 November 2019 at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

We will be launching the new scenario films, so we recommend that at least one person for each SAGE & THYME licence attends the event to ensure that the organisation is up to date on these new developments.

The early bird fee (for booking before 16 October 2019) is £60 per person and the fee thereafter is £80 per person.  Fees charged simply cover the costs.

The programme and booking form can be downloaded from here.

Mike speaking at 2018 Study Day

James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust SAGE and THYME relaunch

11 July 2019

A case study about how James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has relaunched SAGE & THYME training is now available.

Since the relaunch in September 2018, 6-8 weeks post-workshop evaluation has shown that: 75% of staff who attended the workshop feel that the SAGE & THYME training has influenced and changed their practice; and 85% of staff feel that the training has had a positive impact on patient care.

To download the full case study, click here.

James Paget University Hospital case study image

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust case study

19 June 2019

We have a new case study!

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has been running SAGE & THYME training for 2 years:

  • 99.8% participants would recommend the training
  • >80% said that their communication skills had improved
  • >90% were more confident about talking to patients about emotional concerns

Read all about it by downloading the case study from here.

Approaching upset people about research

10 June 2019

Clinical research is needed to develop new treatments and to gain knowledge that will improve patient care.  This sometimes requires researchers to approach patients who may have received some upsetting news, or who are worried about their condition or their future, about participating in research.

We are sometimes asked if the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop teaches skills that can support researchers in talking with patients who have concerns, and the answer is yes!

Find out more by clicking here.

SAGE & THYME contributes to CQC outstanding caring rating

3 April 2019

End of life care at Wythenshawe Hospital (part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust) has been rated as 'outstanding' in caring in a recent CQC report (19 March 2019).

The inspectors noted that in end of life care: "Members of staff, in conjunction with patients, developed a model to address the emotional concerns of patients or their caregivers. This is now a nationally recognised communication model and the trust was a national leader in training in emotional support."

This is not the first time that SAGE & THYME training has been highlighted in CQC reports: it has been mentioned as an example of best practice in communication skills training for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (overall rating outstanding) and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust (overall rating good).

To read the full CQC report for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust visit: https://www.cqc.org.uk/provider/R0A/reports

Shelford Group uses SAGE & THYME training

4 February 2019

The Shelford Group is a collaboration between ten of the largest teaching and research NHS Trusts in England (including Trusts in Cambridge, Oxford, London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester).

The Group was formed in 2011 and aims to shares learning between members and initiate joint projects for large-scale improvement in the NHS.  Many NHS Trusts use data from the leading Shelford organisations to benchmark their own performance.

Nine of the NHS Trusts within the Group run the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop - either under their own licence, or under a network licence held by another organisation.

This demonstrates how SAGE & THYME training is now the most established foundation level communication skills training programme for NHS staff.

New presentation and packs

7 January 2019

For the start of 2019, the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop has been revised and updated, following consultation with a number of SAGE & THYME facilitators.

The changes include:

  • making the SAGE & THYME explanation clearer
  • having less focus on healthcare and patients (as the workshop is attended by non-clinical people too such as hospice volunteers); and
  • improving the materials in the delegate packs (including a new handout on using the SAGE & THYME structure in conversations).

Organisations running the workshop now have 3 months (until the end of March 2019) to transition over to using the new presentation in all the workshops they run.

The revised presentation (which includes new 'stick' men) explains each step of SAGE & THYME more clearly and a number of SAGE & THYME facilitators have contacted us about how much they like it!

SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop slide

Read the full news story here.

Talking about dying

29 October 2018

Doctors and other healthcare professionals find it hard to talk about dying, states a new report from the Royal College of Physicians, 'Talking about dying: How to begin honest conversations about what lies ahead'.

We run a 3.5 hour workshop called 'SAGE & THYME ACP', which teaches health and social care professionals how to open a conversation about advance care planning and to deal with the patient's concerns as they arise.

To organise a SAGE & THYME ACP workshop in your area, please contact us.


Study day for SAGE & THYME facilitators and organisers

20 August 2018

This year’s Study Day is on Tuesday 13th November at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

The event includes: presentations from organisations running SAGE & THYME training across the UK; updates from the SAGE & THYME team on issues such as the change in the way SATFAC feedback is given and running the workshop; and an interactive discussion session.

We recommend that at least one person for each SAGE & THYME licence attends the day to ensure that your organisation is up to date on any new developments.

The early bird fee (for booking before 17 September 2018) is £60 per person and the fee thereafter is £80 per person.  Fees charged simply cover the costs.

We are currently organising speakers and workshops, and will advertise the programme once finalised.

Delegates from 2017 SAGE & THYME study day

Nursing Times award 2018 shortlist

2 July 2018

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has been shortlisted for a Nursing Times 'Enhancing Patient Dignity' award for its work on SAGE & THYME.

The award submission was entitled 'Giving every patient their voice - teaching every nurse how to listen'.  It explains how the memorable structure of SAGE & THYME helps nurses and others to use evidence-based skills in conversations with patients, as dignity in care starts with patients being carefully listened to.

Winners will be announced at the award ceremony on 31 October 2018.

For more information on the awards click here.

Marking 10 years of collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support professionals

25 Jun 2018

To mark 10 years of collaboration between Macmillan Cancer Support professionals and SAGE & THYME, an article has been published in Macmillan's summer edition of its 'Mac Voice' magazine.

The article, written by Mike Connolly (Lead Trainer of SAGE & THYME and Consultant Nurse in Supportive and Palliative Care at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust), talks about how Macmillan was an early adopter of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop and that to date it has supported more than 230 professionals to become SAGE & THYME facilitators.

Genevieve Murphy, Macmillan Senior Learning & Development Manager in Belfast, says, ‘For Macmillan professionals, SAGE & THYME gives them a model they can use in clinical practice, that of listening and responding to concerned patients, putting the patient at the centre of the process and demonstrating a patientcentred approach to communicating and supporting people through the concerns that are important to them.’

Click here to read the article (on page 14).

Free SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop places celebrating 70 years of the NHS

6 June 2018

We are pleased to announce that to encourage new organisations interested in adopting the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop to find out more about it, we are offering them the chance to ‘try before they buy’.

This offer is SAGE & THYME’s contribution to celebrating 70 years of the NHS, and will therefore last until 31 Dec 2018.

We are offering two free places (normally costing £90 each)* for two members of staff within an organisation that is not currently running the SAGE & THYME training, to attend a SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

Attending the workshop will provide a clear understanding of how the workshop is delivered and what participants learn, and help the organisation to decide if and how it could adopt and run the SAGE & THYME communication skills training for its own staff, students and volunteers.

Contact us for more information.

*Subject to availability – terms and conditions apply

Raising awareness of advance care planning for Dying Matters week

14 May 2018

Dying Matters week is an annual event to raise the profile of talking about dying, death and bereavement. Giving a terminally ill person the chance to plan their end of life, allows them to indicate their wishes around their care when their condition deteriorates, in the event that they no longer have the capacity to make decisions, and/or the ability to communicate their wishes to others in the future. These wishes are recorded in an advance care plan.

Professionals responsible for discussing advance care planning with patients include GPs, senior nurses and social care staff. They often report that they don't know how to open such discussions and then structure the conversation, whilst supporting the patient with their concerns. The SAGE & THYME for Advance Care Planning (ACP) workshop teaches staff who have knowledge on the processes and procedures (e.g. Gold Standards Framework) around ACP, how to speak with patients.

1 in 5 NHS Trusts in England running SAGE & THYME training

9 April 2018

Listening to patients is a key part of their care in the NHS. Helping them to talk through their concerns can provide effective support, by allowing patients to think clearly and consider what might help them. Foundation level communication skills facilitate listening to patients and the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop is believed to be the most widespread training programme teaching these skills - it is currently being taught in 1 in 5 acute, community, mental health, and ambulance Trusts in England.

NHS Tayside - improving communication skills

1 February 2018

NHS Tayside adopted the SAGE & THYME training to complement their advanced communication skills programme.  The aim was to enable all staff in contact with patients, from a variety of backgrounds, to be taught how to listen to patients using a person-centred approach.

Nearly 100% of people who have attended the training would recommend it to others.  Staff, including healthcare support workers, say that they have more confidence in speaking to patients and carers about their concerns and show that they have learnt key aspects of effective communication.

To find out more about the benefits of the training to NHS Tayside, click here to go to the case study page.

NHS Tayside SAGE and THYME case study

New case study: University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust

15 January 2018

We're pleased to announce our second SAGE & THYME case study on how and why University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust adopted the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop.  It also covers the challenges the Trust was facing, the benefits of the training and some tips for those organisations considering running the training.

University Hospital Birmingham SAGE and THYME case study

Click here to go to the case studies page.

Two new papers on SAGE & THYME

18 December 2017

Two new papers have just been published on the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop by Dr Jane Griffiths at the University of Manchester.

The first, published in British Journal of Community Nursing, is an article entitled 'Person-centred communication for emotional support in district nursing: SAGE and THYME model'.

The second is a review in the International Journal of Palliative Nursing, entitled 'Communication in palliative care: the applicability of the SAGE and THYME model in Singapore', and was co-authored with Ang Seng Hick Martin (Singapore General Hospital) and Professor John Costello at the University of Manchester.

Click on the links above to read the abstracts.

Br J Community Nursing front cover

Princess Alice Hospice case study – first aid for distressed people

5 December 2017

Princess Alice Hospice is one of the largest in the UK, with around 500 staff and 1,200 volunteers (including retail team and drivers involved in fund raising).  It has been rated ‘outstanding’ in all 5 domains of its last Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspection.

SAGE & THYME was adopted by the hospice because, whilst advanced communication skills training existed for senior medical staff; there was nothing available for junior clinical staff and also non-clinical staff and volunteers who also come into contact with distressed (and sometimes bereaved) people.

Jane Berg, Deputy Director - Skills Knowledge and Research and SAGE & THYME facilitator says: “To use an analogy, teaching SAGE & THYME is like teaching first aid for people who are upset.”

Princess Alice Hospice case study



Wolfson Foundation Bursaries for SAGE & THYME facilitator training

13 November 2017

Hospice UK has recently announced that two types of Wolfson Foundation education bursaries are open for application: one is for care home nurses and healthcare assistants; and the other is for hospice staff (nurse, healthcare assistant, doctor, allied health professional, or social worker).

The aim of the bursaries is to provide education for staff that will lead to improving the quality of end of life care for their residents, patients and families.

The SAGE & THYME facilitator ('SATFAC') course is on the list of eligible courses for the bursary.

There is a limited pot of funding available for the bursaries so early applications for the funding are encouraged.

For more information on how to apply for a bursary, click here.

Impact at SAGE & THYME presented at UKONS conference

10 November 2017

A summary of the evidence of the impact of the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop was presented as a poster at the UK Oncology Nurse Society in Harrogate today.

Mike Connolly, the lead developer and head trainer of the SAGE & THYME programme, attended the conference to present the findings and answer questions.  He also tweeted from @SAGEandTHYME_

SAGE and THYME UKONS poster 2017


Organisation name change

1 October 2017

Today, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) joined with Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT), to form Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

We will be updating the web site and all SAGE & THYME documents with the new organisation name in due course.


SAGE & THYME Poster at UKONS Annual Conference

26 September 2017

The lead developer and head trainer of SAGE & THYME, Michael Connolly, will be presenting a poster on SAGE & THYME at the UK Oncology Nursing Society (UKONS) conference on Friday 10 November.

The conference takes place in the Harrogate Convention Centre and the poster summarises the research evidence on the impact of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop on staff communication skills. 

Annual study day - 16 Nov 2017

10 August 2017

The annual SAGE & THYME study day is being held on Thurs 16 November 2017 in Manchester for SAGE & THYME facilitators, key contacts and potential new customers.  It will consist of a mix of presentations and discussions on:

  • The first 10 years of SAGE & THYME training: establishing the credibility of the workshop and unlocking the training potential in the NHS - Mike Connolly, SAGE & THYME Team
  • Establishing a facilitators’ forum across Northern Ireland – Denise Cranston, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
  • Why hospices run the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop - Andrew Kenwrick, Mary Stevens Hospice (Birmingham)
  • Starting out with SAGE & THYME: things to consider - Robert Smith, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • My two years as a facilitator – what I’ve learnt - Andy Wells, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
  • Interactive discussion: choosing usable scenarios for rehearsals - sharing the ‘dos’ and the ‘definitely don’ts’
  • Interactive discussion: things we know now, that we didn’t know when we started out – panel of morning presenters

Ten years on: SAGE & THYME in numbers

11 July 2017

The SAGE & THYME training programme for teaching foundation level communication skills is now 10 years old.  Here's how it looks in numbers:

Independent evaluation by The University of Northampton Institute of Health and Wellbeing

18 May 2017

The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop has been evaluated by The University of Northampton Institute of Health and Wellbeing, as one component in a series of multi-professional and multi-agency training courses run, to ensure the delivery of high quality services to frail and older people in Northampton.

The Northamptonshire Local Education and Training Council (LETC) received funding from Health Education England to run and evaluate a suite of training courses (including SAGE & THYME) centred around: prevention and enabling self-care; geriatric assessment and personalised care planning; management of long term conditions; and end of life care.

The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop was delivered by the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.  The University’s report highlighted that the SAGE & THYME (S&T) workshop “engenders a sense that this was a well presented, easy to follow communication course which could be applied to practice easily”.

Read more

Dying Matters Week

8 May 2017

Today marks the start of the annual Dying Matters Week, designed to raise awareness about the importance of talking about and planning dying, death and bereavement.

To coincide with this campaign, we have a series of Tweets available @SAGEandTHYME_ that highlight: why advance care planning is important; what clinicians are thinking before they discuss an advance care plan with patients and their carers; what the SAGE & THYME for Advance Care Planning workshop covers; and the outcomes of the training.

SAGE and THYME features in Oxford University Press Textbook

2 March 2017

Oxford University Press have recently published the second edition of the 'Oxford Textbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care', which contains a whole chapter on the SAGE & THYME model, written by Michael Connolly (the lead developer of the SAGE & THYME training).

The chapter covers:

  • the background to the development of the SAGE & THYME model
  • foundation level communication skills and how they are taught in cancer nursing
  • a description of the model and the workshop and the evidence and justification behind each element
  • the evidence on the impact of the workshop on communication knowledge and skills
  • and how the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop can be adopted by other organisations.

Generating senior support for SAGE & THYME - webinar recording available

13 February 2017

The SAGE & THYME team ran another successful webinar on ‘how to generate senior support for your SAGE & THYME training programme’ last week.

The webinar featured guest speakers: Sue Heatley from Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CMFT) and Vicki McLoughlin from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (SRFT).  It was presented by Mike Connolly and hosted by Joanne Thomas from the SAGE & THYME team.

Sue and Vicki talked about how they gained senior support and how they have continued to maintain this.  Mike then ran through a list of lessons learnt from other organisations and covered some dos and don’ts.

The recording of the webinar is now available here.

Webinar on how to generate senior support for SAGE & THYME training

31 January 2017
Do you know how to generate senior support for your SAGE & THYME training programme?
The objectives of this webinar are to:
  • Provide a forum/opportunity for SAGE & THYME facilitators to consider how to generate senior support
  • Showcase successful influencers
  • Demystify influencing activity
  • Showcase influencing strategies and plans
  • Present a ‘Do and Don’t’ list
The special guests on this webinar will be: Sue Heatley, Modern Matron for Community and CKD at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Vicki McLoughlin, Palliative and End of Life Care Practice Development Lead at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.  Both Sue and Vicki have been running the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop in their Trusts for over 6 years. 
The interviewer will be Mike Connolly, Head Trainer of SAGE & THYME and Macmillan Nurse Consultant in Supportive and Palliative Care at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust; and the webinar will be hosted by Dr Joanne Thomas, Senior Technology Manager at TRUSTECH and the business lead for SAGE & THYME.
To register to attend the webinar, please contact us at: sageandthyme@uhsm.nhs.uk.

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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First Twitter campaign

1 December 2016

Today we are launching our first Twitter campaign to promote the SAGE & THYME model and the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop.  We will be posting daily tweets for about 3 weeks.

Please follow our campaign!

Our Twitter handle is @SAGEandTHYME_.  Please retweet our messages and use the following hashtags for comments and questions: #SAGEandTHYME and #SAGEandTHYMEtraining.


Nursing Times articles on listening for revalidation

22 November 2016

The Nursing Times has published (on 21 Nov) two articles on listening skills for nurses: the first (part 1) describes how the SAGE & THYME model can be used as a 'satellite navigation system' to listen and respond to patients' concerns; and the second (part 2) provides exercises to practice listening skills for revalidation.  The articles were written by Mike Connolly, the lead developer of SAGE & THYME.

Nursing Times 2016 part 2 image

Communication skills are key in WHO guide to palliative care services

10 November 2016

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a guide to planning and implementing palliative care services, which puts communication skills at the core of such services.  The WHO recommends that communication skills training is received by: untrained and trained community-based volunteers, community health workers, hospital-based doctors and nurses for adult and children’s services,  paediatric auxiliary nurses, paediatric social workers, teachers, chaplains and neonatologists.

The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop can provide the competencies needed by providing non-advanced communication skills training.

The sample curriculum for a 16 hour training programme for community volunteers suggests that they have 6 hours covering: basics of communication, breaking bed news, addressing emotional reactions and offering emotional support.  The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop lasts only 3 hours and covers the basics of communication, addressing distress and concerns and teaches how to offer patient-centred emotional support.

SAGE & THYME is NHS 'Fab Stuff'

24 October 2016

The Academy of Fabulous Stuff is devoted to sharing ideas and best practice in the NHS.  The aim is to make NHS services "better, quicker, safer, more reliable and cost effective".

The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop teaches evidence-based effective communication skills regarding how to notice distress, hear concerns and respond helpfully and it is suitable for the whole work force.

The SAGE & THYME for advance care planning (ACP) and end of life conversations teaches senior staff how to open a conversation about dying, listen to patients, respond to their distress and support them using an evidence-based patient-focussed approach.

Both the SAGE & THYME foundation level and ACP workshops are now being disseminated around the NHS via the Academy of Fabulous Stuff web site.

Conversation on a ward


Approaching upset patients about participating in research

10 October 2016

Recruiting and engaging patients in research, is a skilled activity because patients have worries and fears about their illnesses.  Researchers have set questions, but starting the conversation with patients and responding to worries, requires specific training.

The North West London Clinical Research Network commissioned some SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops for their research staff to attend.  The staff rated their willingness to talk to people who are emotionally troubled between 8 and 10 (out of 10) after attending the workshop and 84% said would recommend the workshop to others.  

Dr Gill Hood, Workforce Development and Patient Public Initiatives for the NWL CRN said: “We had had numerous requests to provide training on informed consent and communicating with distressed patients.  The requests came from all different types of clinical research staff and this course met the needs for all of them.  I have confidence in recommending it to other research networks.”

Webinar on the evidence behind SAGE & THYME

26 September 2016

The recording of the evidence behind each element of the SAGE & THYME model and also the impact of the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop is now available.  The webinar was hosted by Dr Joanne Thomas and presented by Mike Connolly and Dr Simon Cocksedge.

To access the recording, please click here.

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Next webinar: the evidence behind the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop

14 September 2016

We will be hosting our second webinar entitled 'Understanding the evidence behind SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops'  on Thurs 22 September 2016, 2:00-2:45pm.

The presenters will be Michael Connolly, Simon Cocksedge and Joanne Thomas.  They will be discussing the evidence behind each element of the SAGE & THYME model and also the evidence on the impact of the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop.

London Cancer network recommends SAGE & THYME foundation level

31 August 2016

London Cancer, the Integrated Cancer System for North East and Central London and West Essex, promotes comprehensive and seamless cancer care for patients in its area.

This includes running a level 2 psychological skills training course for healthcare professionals caring for cancer patients.  The prerequisite for attending this course is that professionals have attended a SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop (which covers level 1 psychological support).

Dr Mark Barrington, Chair, Psychosocial Expert Reference Group for London Cancer said, “SAGE & THYME is a deceptively simple method for managing complex interactions with patients.  It helps professionals to show both that they care and that they value a collaborative approach to problem solving”.


ACP article featured in Innovage magazine

28 July 2016

The SAGE & THYME for Advance Care Planning (ACP) and End of Life Care workshop features in the latest edition of the Innovage magazine (issue 14), published by Edward Centre for Healthcare.

Written by Mike Connolly, the article talks about 'knocking gently on the door' in order to open up conversations with patients and their carers about their future wishes and plans before they may lose the capacity to express them.  It also highlights two systematic reviews of the literature on the subject.

To read the article (page 10), please click here.

Successful first webinar

18 July 2016

The first ever live SAGE & THYME webinar was broadcast last week (14 July) by the SAGE & THYME Team.  It was aimed at SAGE & THYME facilitators and it covered choosing useful scenarios for rehearsals in the SAGE & THYME Foundation level workshop.

Over 50 people attended the webinar and stayed for the whole session.  Several facilitators sent the team positive feedback after the event.  A link to the webinar recording has been sent to all SAGE & THYME facilitators and key contacts.  It is also available from the trainer area of the website.

Elaine, Mike and Jo during webinar

Elaine, Mike and Jo during the webinar

Salford Royal: end of life training for staff includes SAGE & THYME

13 July 2016

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust's end of life care has been rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as 'outstanding'.  The Trust's commitment to providing high quality end of life care, includes ensuring that all staff involved in dealing with patients and carers, have the right skills.  It therefore runs the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop  as part of its training programme, to teach staff how to recognise distress, and communicate with someone who is upset or has concerns, whilst providing basic psychological support.


Launch of webinars

6 June 2016

We are launching a series of webinars to allow everyone to access updates and information on SAGE & THYME and related issues without having to leave their place of work.

The first webinar will take place on Thursday 14 July, 2:00-2:45pm on choosing useful scenarios.  To find out the dates of the other webinars planned and to book a place, please click here.

Announcing our official twitter account!

12 May 2016

We are pleased to launch the new SAGE & THYME twitter account  @SAGEandTHYME_  which we hope will be a platform for communication and for sharing relevant information.  We hope that many of you choose to follow us!

Royal College of Physicians End of Life Care Audit

12 May 2016

The Royal College of Physicians 'End of Life Care Audit - Dying in Hospital: Nation report for England 2016', published on 30 March 2016, highlights how important it is for staff involved in care of the dying to have: good communication skills; the ability to listen to patients' concerns; and the skills to conduct advance care planning.

Presentation on latest research at NET2016 conference

4 April 2016

The latest research on the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop, conducted by the University of Manchester in collaboration with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, will be presented at the NET2016 conference in Cambridge on 6-8 September 2016.

The research focuses on the barriers and facilitators to implementing a communication skills model in practice and bridging the theory practice gap.

RCN Education Forum National Conference

15 February 2016

Mike Connolly will be presenting an abstract at the RCN Education Forum National Conference on Tues 15 March 2016 (International Centre in Telford) on 'teaching foundation level communication skills using ‘SAGE & THYME’ in clinical practice and in the nursing curriculum'.

The presentation will be delivered at 12:30pm (concurrent session 1.3.4) and Joanne Thomas from the team will also be attending, along with Mike, to answer any questions.

If you're attending this conference, please come and see us in our session.


Better Endings - NIHR themed review

12 January 2015

A review on end of life care services, entitled 'Better Endings', has been published by the National Institue for Health Research (NIHR) Dissemination Centre (Dec 2015).

The review considers how patients at the end of their lives should receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place.

Research has shown that whilst good care of dying patients includes complying with the patient's wishes, an advanced care plan (ACP) is not always completed for each patient.  One reason for this is that staff can find it difficult to initiate such discussions.

The SAGE & THYME ACP workshop teaches healthcare professionals how to open a discussion about advance care planning and also manage any concerns that a patient may have, to ensure that their patients receive the right care, at the right time and in the right place.

SAGE & THYME shortlisted for BioNow award

26 November 2015

The SAGE & THYME programme has been shortlisted for the Bionow Healthcare Project of the Year award.

Mike Connolly will be attending the prestigious Bionow Annual Awards Dinner at The Mere Golf Resort & Spa (in Mere, Cheshire) tonight.

For more information, click here.

'Listening Revolution'

14 September 2015

The NHS Confederation has published an article on the 'listening revolution', written by Mike Connolly, the lead trainer for SAGE & THYME, see: http://www.nhsconfed.org/blog.

In the blog, Mike reflects on how important it is for busy NHS staff to have the skills to listen to patients, despite the pressures that staff are currently facing.

Bookings being taken for 2015 conference and training update

19 August 2015

Bookings are now being taken for our annual conference and training update, taking place on Tues 24 Nov 2015, in Manchester.

The conference is always a popular event with SAGE & THYME facilitators and others interested in learning more about the SAGE & THYME training.

The early bird fee of £60 per delegate is available until 30 September 2015 - the full fee charged from 1 October 2015 will be £80 per delegate.

Please click here for more information and to view the draft programme and booking form.

UHSM is running training in London!

16 July 2015

For the first time, UHSM will be running SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshops and SATFAC courses in Lumen Rooms in London (near Euston station).

In the past, UHSM has only run workshops and courses outside of Manchester for customers who could fill all the spaces.  But, in response to customer demand, UHSM is trialling running training, in October and November, that any customers can access.

For the date of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshops click here and for the SATFAC course dates click here.

SAGE & THYME in The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures

11 May 2015

The Royal Marsden Manual of Clinical Nursing Procedures is in its 9th edition, and is regarded as one of the best nursing textbooks available.  The SAGE & THYME team is pleased to announce that the manual now features a section on the SAGE & THYME model and its evidence base.  This demonstrates that the SAGE & THYME approach is becoming embedded in routine clinical practice.

For more information on the Manual click here.


King's College London students learn about SAGE & THYME

9 April 2015

Nursing and midwifery students at King's College London (King's) are now being taught how to use the SAGE & THYME model to help them to listen and respond to patient concerns.

King's has recently signed a licence to run the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops and has trained up a number of its lecturers to deliver the workshops to its students.

Read full news story here.

Paper published on district nurses use of SAGE & THYME model

19 March 2015

An electronic version of a paper, on improving communication with palliative care cancer patients using the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop, has been published by Jane Griffiths, Charlotte Wlison, Gail Ewing, Michael Connolly and Gunn Grande in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing.

The paper highlights how attending the workshop, improved the district nurses' knowledge about communication behaviours helpful to patients; and that this was sustained two months after training.   The district nurses also reported an increase in their confidence in communication skills, which was sustained post-workshop.  In addition, the findings demonstrate that it can be difficult to control the environment when visitng a patient at home.

Macmillan report on supporting staff

17 February 2015

Macmillan Cancer Support have produced a report on how to support and empower staff to deliver a good experience of care for patients.  This includes ensuring that staff have the right training.

The report gives an example of how the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop has been successfully run by Macmillan Cancer Support in London in partnership with a number of NHS Trusts: the feedback from University College London Hospital "has been excellent".

To read the report click here.

Successful conference

20 November 2014

The 4th annual SAGE & THYME UK conference was held yesterday.  It was attended by over 60 SAGE & THYME facilitators from around the UK, to hear the latest developments on SAGE & THYME, and to network and make contacts with facilitators from other organisations.

The conference was opened by Felicity Goodey CBE DL, Chair of University Hospitals of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and former BBC journalist, who said that she had attended a few courses in her time, but had never attended one that was "more patient focussed, more effective and better run", than the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop.


4th Annual Conference Programme released

18 September 2014

The 4th SAGE & THYME UK annual conference programme has now been released.

Visit the News page to download the programme.


To book a place please contact us - places are £65 per person.

Conference open for registration - Wednesday 19 November 2014

31 July 2014

The details of the 2014 SAGE & THYME UK conference, which will take place on Wed 19 November 2014 in Manchester, have now been released.

As always, the conference will consist of a mixture of presentations and parallel workshops involving a number of speakers from organisations running the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops in addition to the SAGE & THYME Team.

The conference costs £65 per person - for more information click here.


SAGE & THYME highlighted in 'One Chance to Get It Right'

30 June 2014

Following the independent review of the Liverpool Care Pathway, the government has published 'One Chance to Get It Right'.

This report summarises the system wide response to the review.  It highlights five new priorities of care and mentions SAGE & THYME as a communication skills training development resource.

For more information, click here.


National care of the dying audit

5 June 2014

Mandatory communication skills training is the second recommendation in the 'National care of the dying audit for hospitals England' published last month by the Royal College of Physicians and the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool. 

The SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop is suitable for providing training to all types and levels of staff in general communication skills; and the SAGE & THYME for Advance Care Planning and End of Life Care workshop is appropriate for more senior staff who discuss advance care planning with patients and their relatives/carers.


UK Kidney Week - Nottingham University Hospitals presents findings

6 May 2014

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust presented the findings of their evaluation of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop, at UK Kidney Week in Glasgow on 2 May.  

Second paper published

24 March 2014

The second paper reporting on the evaluation of the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level workshop has now been published in the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions.

NHS Expo and the 6Cs

5 March 2014

SAGE & THYME training was represented on the ‘Manchester: health is our business’ stand at the annual NHS Expo, which took place in Manchester on 3 and 4 March.

The conference covered a range of NHS issues including care and compassion and the 6Cs initiative being promoted by NHS England.

The 6Cs are: care, compassion, competence, communication, commitment and courage.  They were originally developed for nurses, but NHS England now hopes to expand the approach to the whole of the NHS workforce.  The SAGE & THYME Foundation level workshop addresses four of the 6Cs.


SAGE and THYME ACP workshop

25 February 2014

The first SAGE & THYME for advance care planning (ACP) workshop, open to anyone involved in advance care planning in the UK, has been scheduled for Friday 23 May 2014 at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

Happy New Year!

6 January 2014

The SAGE & THYME Team are now back to work after the Christmas break.  We would like to wish all of our SAGE & THYME facilitators and their associates a happy New Year.

SAGE & THYME Team Office Christmas Closure

17 December 2013

Please note that the SAGE & THYME office will close for Christmas on the afternoon of Tuesday 24th December and will re-open on Friday 3rd January 2014.

We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!



Date for 2014 SAGE & THYME UK conference announced

9 December 2013

The date for next year's SAGE & THYME UK conference has now been set for Wednesday 19 November 2014 at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.  Please save this date in your diary.  Further details will be available closer to the event.



SAGE & THYME UK Conference 2013 - presentations

3 December 2013

The presentations from the SAGE & THYME UK conference 2013, held in Manchester last month, are now available on the trainer area of the web site.


Programme for SAGE & THYME UK 2013 Conference

1 October 2013

The SAGE & THYME UK 2014 conference programme is now available.

The closing date for bookings is Fri 11 Oct 2013 and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.


SAGE & THYME UK 2013 Conference

6 August 2013

Bookings are now open for this year's SAGE & THYME UK conference, which is taking place on Thursday 14 November 2013 at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester.

The conference will run from 9:30am-4:00pm and will contain a mix of presentations and workshops.

The programme is aimed at people who are existing SAGE & THYME facilitators and those people who are interested in running SAGE & THYME workshops in their organisation.

Map showing licensees

20 May 2013

The SAGE & THYME Team is pleased to announce that a map is now available on this web site that indicates which organisations currently hold a licence to run SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops.

National End of Life Care Programme newsletter features SAGE & THYME

25 February 2013

The latest edition of the National End of Life Care Programme newsletter features an article on the original SAGE & THYME training (the foundation level workshop) and the new SAGE & THYME for advance care planning workshop.

National Cancer Action Team Findings

6 February 2013

A recent survey, conducted by the National Cancer Action Team and looking at the changes that have been made in NHS Trusts to improve cancer patient experience, has found that many of the Trusts had rolled out the SAGE & THYME Foundation Level training.

Date for SAGE & THYME Conference 2013 announced

7 January 2013

The date for the third SAGE & THYME conference has been scheduled for Thursday 14 November 2013 in Manchester. 

40th licence signed

17 December 2012

The SAGE & THYME team are pleased to announce that the 40th licence agreement to run the SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops has just been signed.

Second SAGE & THYME conference

9 November 2012

The second SAGE & THYME conference was held for SAGE & THYME facilitators on Thursday 1 November.  Around 70 people attended the conference - almost double that of last year.

The day included a mix of formal presentations, training and open space discussions and the feedback from the delegates was very positive.

The date for next year's conference has been set for Thursday 14 November 2013.

SAGE & THYME - 1 Nov 2012

We are pleased to announce that we are holding our second conference for SAGE & THYME facilitators on Thurs 1 November 2012 in Manchester.

This is our second annual conference for both recently trained and more experienced SAGE & THYME facilitators.

 The programme includes:

SAGE & THYME e-seminar for NHS Kidney Care - 18 July 2012

The SAGE & THYME foundation level workshops have been run by Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s (CMFT) renal unit to improve staff communication skills.  CMFT’s evaluation has been published in the  ‘Getting It Right’ report (available from NHS Kidney Care).

NHS Kidney Care invited the SAGE & THYME Team to run an e-seminar in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary renal staff at CMFT.

The recording of the e-seminar and the summary can be viewed here