Tips for practice

Making teach-back part of routine practice – tips for starting out

Tips to help healthcare workers and teams develop the ‘habit’ of using teach-back in everyday practice are:

  • Include teach-back in standard orientation programs for new staff.
  • Start by using teach-back in just one or two topic areas that are relatively ‘contained’. For example, how to manage cardiac chest pain. Areas that are ‘high-risk’ or key transition points may be good to start with.
  • Use a team-approach. If everyone who is organising or providing care uses teach-back – even for informal education, then it will become more familiar to everyone.
  • Document who has taught what and how the client responded. Teams can develop their own teach-back checklist or log to ensure that all important teaching points have been covered.
  • Consider adding teach-back case studies to every second team meeting. This ten minute activity will allow team members to share success stories or any difficulties with using teach-back.
  • Nominate ‘teach-back champions’ within a clinical area. Depending on their available time, these champions can act as role models and mentor other team members to use teach-back.
  • Use a train-the-trainer approach whereby the champions teach their peers to use teach-back.
  • Put reminders to use teach-back around the clinical area, e.g. posters or on staff lanyards.
  • Let clients know that teach-back is part of usual practice, and encourage them to use it themselves.
  • Use teach-back with your peers during clinical handover.
  • Add teach-back into clinical pathways and standards, develop a policy & procedure, or make it a key performance indicator for staff.

A structured approach to building client knowledge and confidence to take action.

A team from the USA uses a 3-day approach to patient education, using teach-back to check for understanding:

  • Day 1 questions relate to simple knowledge (e.g. “what is the name of the tablet you take for your high blood pressure?”).
  • Day 2 questions address concerns and attitudes (e.g. “what concerns do you have about…?”).
  • Day 3 questions ask about what clients will actually do in practice (e.g. “how will you remember to take your blood pressure tablet every day?”).

Also see these additional resources for integrating teach-back into usual practice at an organisational level: