Lynne Phair Consulting Expert witness and Independent Nurse Adviser in the care of Older People



The Sit and See Observation Tool

A tool to capture and celebrate care and compassion in any care setting

Developed by Lynne Phair in partnership with Brighton & Sussex University Hospital Trust and NHS England (Surrey and Sussex), This simple observation tool captures and records the smallest things that make the biggest different to patient care. The observer can sit for between 15- 50 minutes and observe and celebrate tiny examples of care and compassion or recommend how to improve aspects of care. For example a smile, a little banter, a reassuring touch or perhaps sorting out their radio. After just 2.5 hours training, an observer will learn to see tiny examples of care or compassion and using a simple recording system can identify positive, passive or poor care. For staff who use the tool, they see care through the patient’s eyes which gives them an understanding of the difference their interactions can really make to patient dignity, care and compassion. They also learn, to reflect and discuss care and compassion and the challenges of delivering compassionate care, while no longer excusing dispassionate care. The tool records both quantitative and qualitative data, compassionate and dispassionate care. It is being used from Ward to Board, by Providers, Commissioners, volunteers and lay inspectors and students; and anyone can be trained to use the tool, no medical or nursing expertise is required.

Since the launch of the tool in 2011, training has been delivered in over 20 health and social care organisations across England. The tool now has four versions for use in general hospitals, care homes, mental health services and community services. A further version to use the tool is Secure hospitals has been commissioned. The tool is also used by four universities for pre and post registration education of nurses and dementia leads. Other organisations who use the tool include the Patients Association, Health watch (East Sussex) and the Department of Health Francis response team and the tool was a finalist in the Nursing Times Awards 2013.

The tool is listed as an example of good practice in the Government response to the Francis Report “Hard Truths” and can be read on the UK Government website here

Find out more about Sit & See at

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