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Stephen Pattrick: 'Entertaining, interactive games can improve staff engagement'


Interactive games should play a role in staff engagement, says Stephen Pattrick

Staff engagement has to be one of the hottest topics in the NHS over the last year. It seems that, far from being as innocent as they sound, these two words are actually loaded with connotations, fuelling debate and conjecture across the UK.

The briefest of searches shows the issue of staff engagement springing up all over the place, from newspaper columns to magazine articles to entire blogs that have been faithfully researched and dedicated to the issue. It seems that, when it comes to having a stake in public healthcare, every-one has something to say on the matter.

But then, is this really surprising when we take into consideration the Point of Care Foundation’s report, the Francis report and the rise of NHS Change Day?

“We have created a free interactive online game called Casualty Commander. During the game, players have to control an accident and emergency department for 24 hours”

We all know the NHS is wholeheartedly implementing positive initiatives, but what are private healthcare providers doing to engage their staff?

At Newcross Healthcare Solutions, we have created a free interactive online game called Casualty Commander. During the game, players have to control an accident and emergency department for 24 hours - with more and more patients coming through the doors, each of whom brings with them a mini-game, challenge or question. It is, I assure you, much harder than you think.

We came up with the idea of creating a computer game for staff to play after recognising there was a need to give something back to them. We wanted to create something that was entertaining and unique with which staff could positively engage. The fact that the game is becoming viral outside of Newcross is great and shows the level of demand for this type of activity.

At first glance, a computer game may seem like a strange idea for staff engagement. However, we all know technology is becoming integral to our working and home lives. Can any of us imagine our lives without a smartphone?

Most businesses have kept up by creating company websites and turning to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Casualty Commander fits in with this trend. Most importantly, it allows Newcross employees to have fun, feel a sense of belonging and take pride in the organisation for which they work. It has also turned out to be a great way for staff to share their work company with their family and friends.

Increased awareness regarding staff engagement can only be a good thing for employees and patients alike. Engaged staff take fewer days off, are more productive, help achieve better financial performance and are more aligned to their workplace’s core values and ethos. Workplaces with higher levels of engagement report greater levels of creativity and innovation among employees and, if that wasn’t enough, staff who feel positively engaged by their employers are much stronger advocates for their company than those who do not.

With the workplace becoming more dependent on technology, perhaps it is only natural that interactive games should, and will, have a much larger part to play in the role of staff engagement in both private and public healthcare.

With the benefits of positive staff engagement so clearly laid out and the rise in technology use within the workplace growing year on year, perhaps it is only natural that interactive games should and will have a much larger part to play in the role of staff engagement in both private and public healthcare companies.

● Casualty Commander can be downloaded via Facebook at:

Stephen Pattrick is chief executive officer, Newcross Healthcare Solutions


Readers' comments (3)

  • What a complete and utter load of ..

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  • maybe it would be better to be seen and reported by the public to be playing games than perceived to be gossiping and giggling or playing on our computers! maybe they would find it more constructive and acceptable?

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  • we were thrilled when we had Solitaire on our newly installed computer system, a real novelty, and were encouraged to play to get used to manipulating a mouse. we queued up in our coffee breaks to have a go as the computer was conveniently placed in our ward kitchen. Coffee breaks became staggered and also longer and longer so everybody could have a go, or two, until one morning we came to work and to our dismay the programme had been wiped off the computer. The reason: during the night a patient was bought in by ambulance and a doctor and a nurse told the ambulance men to wait while they finished their game!

    Hope we get Tiddlywinks, Dominos, Snakes and Ladders, Snap and Lotto!

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