Regulators unite to support reflective practice across health and care

18 June 2019

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the leaders of eight other health and care regulators have joined forces to stress the benefits and importance of good reflection among professionals in the health and care sector.

The chief executives have signed a joint statement – Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner – which outlines the processes and advantages of being a good reflective practitioner for individuals and teams.

Reflection is how health and care professionals can assess their professional experiences – both positive and where improvements may be needed – recording and documenting insight to aid their learning and identify opportunities to improve.

Reflection allows an individual to continually improve the quality of care they provide and gives multi-disciplinary teams the opportunity to reflect and discuss openly and honestly.

The statement makes clear that teams should be encouraged to make time for reflection, as a way of aiding development, improving wellbeing and deepening professional commitment.

Chief executives of nine regulators – the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland – have all signed the statement.

It states that reflection plays an important role in health and care work, and brings benefits to the public, people using services and patients and their carers, by:

  • Fostering improvements in practices and services;
  • Assuring the public that health and care professionals are continuously learning and seeking to improve.

The statement reinforces that reflection is a key element of development and educational requirements and, in some professions, for revalidation as well. It also makes clear that patient confidentiality is vital, and that registrants will not be asked by regulators to provide their personal reflective notes to investigate a concern about them.

Guidance is given on how to get the most out of reflection, including having a systematic and structured approach with proactive and willing participants. It makes clear that any experience, positive or negative and however small – perhaps a conversation with a colleague – can generate meaningful insight and learning. Multi-disciplinary and professional team reflection is viewed as an excellent way to develop ideas and improve practice.

The statement also reinforces the regulators’ continued commitments to reflection across their own organisations, and highlights the pivotal role it plays in changing and improving their work.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Executive and Registrar at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), said:

“In these challenging times for health and social care, it’s so important that collectively we do all we can to support our health and care professionals, and their employers, in devoting time to individual, reflective, personal and honest thinking.

“I’m therefore really glad to join forces with our regulatory partners in this way as we all strive to improve the quality of good, safe person-centred care for people.

“While the health and care system may be at full stretch, we know from our own revalidation work – the process that nurses, midwives and nursing associates go through every three years to maintain their registration – that reflective practice helps professionals employed across all manner of health and care settings to really focus on how they can demonstrate they are living the standards as set out in the Code.

“I am confident that individuals who are given the time and support to reflect – who are encouraged to celebrate what has gone well; who can be challenged to think about what can be done differently next time and who are motivated and inspired to continually improve – are more likely to deliver better, safer care now and for the future.”

Further background

Download Benefits of becoming a reflective practitioner.