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By Maeve Hurley Friday. Jul 26, 2019

Sharing Ag Eisteacht’s vision at RCPI

Sharing Ag Eisteacht’s vision at the RCPI

I was honoured to be included in the RCPI’s (Royal College of Physicians Ireland) ‘Patient safety through better communication’ conference on 19th June at No.6 Kildare Street, Dublin.


I think our approach at Ag Eisteacht of offering time, attention and respect to patients is a foundational skill, and in sharing our ABLE (Adopting a relational approach|Build & Boundary|Listen|Empower) brief intervention model, I hoped to affirm the skills that many physicians are already using.


To be in such good company was an energising and thought-provoking experience and it gave me additional insights into how I can be a better communicator.


Dr Austin O Carroll, a GP in inner city Dublin, illustrated clearly with narratives the way that being stigmatised can impact on patients’ care and how the experience of being valued and treated with dignity can help people to find their way forward.


Dr Carl Horsley spoke about Safety 11, an approach which defines safety as the ability to succeed in varying circumstances and to understand what makes systems go well. He highlighted the value of diversity in teams and how it increases patient safety when different perspectives are heard and valued as part of this process.


Communications expert Cathy Mac Donald spoke about the emotional concerns of people and how these can help us to tune in, engage with and come alongside people, especially in challenging situations. She stressed the importance of maintaining people’s dignity in communicating with them.


It was also interesting to hear Dr Dorothy Green and Dr Dara Byrne talk about simulation training and the metrics that looked at the impact of simulation in medical education and training.


I was struck by the genuine interest the speakers showed in engaging with participants in the panel discussion - and by their ability to think about the what the speakers’ words meant to them. That was real modelling of being present and attuned!


A big thank you to the RCPI for exploring this important topic and for giving me an opportunity to share Ag Eisteacht’s vision for a relationship-centred approach to practice via our ABLE model.


I am delighted to share the following five enabling questions you might consider to nurture a relationship-centred approach to practice.


  1. Am I able to tune into myself first so that I can be open and receptive to others?
  2. Do I have capacity now and am I able to put distractions aside to find the space for this?
  3. Am I able to listen and tune into what a person’s words mean to them - not to me?
  4. Am I able to identify the person’s emotions and concerns?
  5. Am I able to relay that conversation to show my understanding of their situation?


About Ag Eisteacht

Ag Eisteacht is a Cork based training charity (CHY number 20668). Founded in 2001 by Maeve Hurley and health visitor Kathy Jones, we were initially called Brief Encounters® Ireland but later rebranded as ‘Ag Eisteacht’ to reflect the wide range of training programmes on offer and the core skill of listening as key to empowering people.


Find out more at


About the author

Dr. Maeve Hurley, MB, MRCGP 

CEO and Co-founder of Ag Éisteacht


Maeve is CEO of Ag Eisteacht, a Cork based charity which she co -founded in 2001. Her area of specialist interest is relational well being and the field of research and evidence which unequivocally demonstrates the critical role relationships play in determining health and well-being.


Having studied medicine in UCC Maeve worked in General Practice in Cork and the UK. Whilst working in the UK as a General practitioner Maeve became interested in relational well-being and undertook professional training in this field in order to enhance her work with patients. Maeve became a licensed trainer with Oneplusone in the UK and delivered its Brief Encounters programme over a number of years. Ag Eisteacht now delivers an evidenced informed programme called ABLE. The programme is based on Ag Eisteacht’s extensive experience of delivering relational based training to practitioners in healthcare, social care, education, justice and business in Ireland since 2001. ABLE incorporates evaluation feedback from past participants, emerging research and expert input which places the programme specifically in an Irish context. As an experienced trainer and facilitator Maeve delivers training in small group settings, focusing on building practitioners knowledge, skills and confidence so they can adopt a relational approach to their work. As well as working with experienced practitioners, Maeve has been invited to participate in GP and Social Care training modules at University College Cork Maeve sees the ability to engage with and build rapport with clients and the skills to listen, attune and empathise as key for practitioners working in frontline practice. Maeve is committed to an approach which empowers clients to participate in looking at a way forward. The Ag Eisteacht team, under Maeve’s stewardship, strive to deliver a unique, reflective training experience for each participant, delivered in a calm, nurturing space. A core objective of the programme is that participants leave the training affirmed, refreshed and empowered to continue to work with their clients in a reenergised, respectful and hopeful way. As a partner and mother to five ‘emerging adults’, Maeve is constantly reminded of the dynamic nature of relationships and finds the knowledge and experience she has gained through training helps her in every aspect of her life.



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