Safety culture

What we observe, measure and experience is defined as the culture of a workplace. Culture is the way we think — our values, our attitudes, our perceptions and our beliefs. It is also how we act — our habits and our typical behaviours – and is often referred to 'how we do things around here'.

In practice, culture represents the way that people within the organisation behave towards each other e.g. how they engage with one another and with patients; the care taken place when performing tasks, the adherence to guidelines and protocols.

Understanding your culture before you make any change or improvement can change the way teams and organisations work and communicate, to improve the experience of patients and staff.

Safety culture measurement

Safety culture is a reliable predictor of clinical safety behaviours and patient safety outcomes.

The CEC's position on safety culture is that it is best measured at the team-level through a mixed method approach and is always wrapped in a structured and supported improvement framework. A safety culture measurement enables wards, departments, facilities and organisations understand and improve their culture of care.

The following guidance has been developed to assist teams and organisations in undertaking a valid and reliable safety culture measurement and to provide resources to report and interpret the results. We have outlined what is required to undertake the culture survey in four stages.

Safety culture measurement and accreditation

The importance of measuring safety culture for quality improvement is articulated in the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare National Safety Clinical Governance Standard, Action 1.1 Governance, leadership and culture. Engaging in a safety culture measurement process will demonstrate commitment to safety and quality improvement as well as provide evidence to support accreditation.

If you have any comments or feedback please contact CEC-CapabilityAndCulture@health.nsw.gov.au.