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Values-based practice - Using the book, He Died Waiting, as a learning tool

The book, He Died Waiting: Learning the lessons - a bereaved mother's view of mental health services by Caroline Aldridge (2020), and the postcards with quotes from it, can be used in many ways to help students and practitioners to develop reflexiveness, empathy, and values-based practice. This resource provides materials for two, 50 minute – 1 hour, workshops. These activities are perfect for students and practitioners across health and social care. These resources can be adapted for use in 1:1 supervisions, larger groups, or other audiences. For example, they could be used with patient/service-user participation representatives and/or carers to explore their experiences and what values-based behaviours they would like to see from professionals.

To assist practice educators and mentors, and student or newly qualified social workers or nurses, it is indicated where the activities might provide evidence for social work’s Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) (BASW, 2018) and the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) The Code (professional standards and behaviours) (2015).

He Died Waiting Postcard Activity

There are 8 postcards in each set (available from For this activity we have chosen 5 of the postcards from Set 1 to use in group discussions. For each we have suggested some prompt questions. You might wish to print out the activity and create cards or a worksheet from it.

NB: The activity could be undertaken as 5 (10 minute) starter or plenary activity in teaching sessions, team meetings, supervisions, or workshops.


“Love, like compassion, are human necessities that keep us in the realms of kindness.”

· What does compassion and professional love look like in your placement, work setting or organisation?

· What are the challenges and benefits of practising with love, compassion, and kindness?


PCF - 1 (professionalism) , 2 (values and ethics), and 7 (skills and interventions).

NMC code – 1.1 (treat people with kindness, respect and compassion)


“The files record his life in a way that misses the point of him. There is no recognition of his intelligence, his caring nature, his resilience, or his value to his friends and family.”

· How do you (will you) ensure that your recording captures the whole person?

· What are the barriers to recording holistically?

· What are the benefits to the patient/service-user and professionals of recording the positive aspects of someone’s life?


PCF - 7 (skills and interventions)

NMC code –2.2 (recognise and respect the contribution that people can make to their own health and wellbeing), 3 (make sure that people’s physical, social and psychological needs are assessed and responded to), and 10 (keep clear and accurate records relevant to your practice).


“Some people are deemed to be of so little worth that their lives (and their deaths) are mere whispers but his whispered life echoes loudly in the hearts of those who loved him.”

· How can you ‘speak loudly’ for the patients/service-users you work with?

· How do you/could you support the people who use services to ‘speak loudly’?

· Can you think of an example in placement, work setting, or organisation where you have spoken up (or supported someone else to do this)? How could you do more?


PCF – 4 (rights, justice and economic wellbeing), 7 (skills and interventions).

NMC code- 3.4 (act as an advocate for the vulnerable, challenging poor practice and discriminatory attitudes and behaviour relating to their care), 16 (act without delay if you believe that there is a risk to patient safety or public protection).


“The situation is not hopeless. There are things we can do. If everyone committed to doing their own tiny bit things could change.”

· How have you influenced change in your placement, work setting, or organisation? Or, how do you plan to influence change?