Communicating with people in distress

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Suitable for:

  • Professionals

Format: external service

This resource is delivered from a separate website.

Sage and Thyme model and foundation level workshop, teaching the core skills of dealing with people in distress.

The Sage & Thyme workshop reminds staff how to listen and how to respond in a way which empowers the patient. It discourages staff from fixing and demonstrates how to work with the patient's own ideas first. The training is based on research findings on effective communication skills.

About the workshop

Use of the SAGE & THYME model is taught in a 3 hour SAGE & THYME foundation level workshop run by 3 facilitators. In the workshop, up to 30 participants learn how to use evidence-based skills when listening and responding to concerns.

Learning implemented into practice

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

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


The SAGE & THYME model and foundation level workshop was developed by members of staff at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust (UHSM) and a patient in 2006.

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