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Values in Action

About Values in Action (ViA)

Why behaviours matter

Our 9 health service behaviours

How behaviour spreads

Sharing our ViA stories

What does ViA involve?

Related content


About Values in Action (ViA)

Every day, thousands of health service staff across Ireland live our values of care, compassion, trust and learning. Sometimes this is visible, sometimes it is not.

Values in Action (ViA) is about building the culture of the health service around these values, so that they are visible in workplaces everyday.

ViA is led by staff from all disciplines and backgrounds, working together to spread 9 behaviours that reflect our values.

Our behaviours can have more impact than words because we tend to copy what we see others doing. Sometimes we are aware of this and sometimes we are not. Values in Action is about intentionally behaving in a positive way, and influencing our colleagues to do the same.

Through Values in Action we can create a better working environment and deliver better experiences for our patients and service users. Evidence shows that staff who are happier and more engaged at work leads to improved outcomes for patients.

Why behaviours matter

Values are important. They can, however, mean different things to different people. This is why our values are translated into 9 behaviours. These behaviours are visible actions that can be understood and adopted.

We can shape the culture around us by living these behaviours. We can influence our peers to do the same and create a culture of continuous improvement across our services.

Values in Action is already live across our health service. Many staff are making the choice every day to ensure that our values and behaviours are not just words but become a way of life for us all.

Our health service behaviours highlight the importance of self-awareness. How we ‘show up’ for ourselves, our colleagues, and our patients and service users, is what really matters.

We bring our values to life when we:

  • put ourselves in each others shoes
  • recognise the impact of our words and actions
  • reach out to support each other

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead

Our 9 health service behaviours

9 behaviors are shown to bring HSE's values of care, compassion, trust, and learning to life.

These behaviours guide how we behave as we go about our work in the health service.

The behaviours reflect 3 strands:

  • personal - us as individuals
  • with colleagues - how we interact with colleagues
  • with patients and service users - how we interact with and treat patients and service users


3 behaviours that encourage self-reflection and self-awareness.

When considering how our personal behaviour reflects the HSE values, we can ask ourselves:

Am I putting myself in other people’s shoes?

Can I see the challenges that others have, and would I change my attitude or what I do as a result? Am I being fair?

Seeing things from other people’s perspectives and understanding others’ roles and situation is crucial in working effectively with others. Taking a moment to see the challenges that others face can help us understand and empathise with their situation. It may change our attitude, what we do, or how we communicate as a result.

Am I aware that my actions can impact how other people feel?

Am I a good example?

Am I aware of how I am heard and seen?

People never forget how we make them feel. How people feel about their interactions with us can often be a lasting memory.

Am I aware of my own stress and how I deal with it?

Am I dealing with stress appropriately, for myself and others?

Should I ask for help or support?

Am I doing things that can help relieve stress at work?

We all experience stress in our working lives. It’s important to recognise when we are under too much stress. It can affect our health and wellbeing and others around us. Getting support or doing things to relieve stress can help.

With colleagues

3 behaviours that guide how we interact with our colleagues.

When considering how our interactions with colleagues reflect the HSE values, we can ask ourselves:

Do I acknowledge the work of my colleagues?

Do I treat everybody equally, regardless of hierarchy or role within the organisation?

Do I say 'thank you' and acknowledge team members and colleagues' efforts?

Openly acknowledging colleagues' work and contribution, and saying 'thank you', has a a positive impact. We can use opportunities like team meetings to share examples of good work, to mark a success or reaching a key milestone.

Do I ask colleagues how I can help them?

Offering help or sharing knowledge is a great way to support each other.

Support can take many forms such as listening, offering a cup of tea or sharing our knowledge. Simple but thoughtful acts can demonstrate we care and look out for each other, and help create better workplaces.

Do I challenge toxic attitudes and behaviours in the workplace?

Everyone who uses and works in our health service deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. It is not always easy, but it is important to not be a bystander when we:

  • encounter toxic attitudes and behaviours
  • observe colleagues, patients or service users being treated disrespectfully

We can acknowledge difficulties, but also try to bring balance to discussions and situations, and act when needed.

With patients and service users

3 behaviours that guide how we interact with and treat our patients and service users.

When considering how our interactions with patients and service users reflects HSE values, we can ask ourselves:

Do I routinely use my name and the service user’s name?

Do I always introduce myself and outline my role?

Am I aware of my body langauage and tone of voice?

Patients and service users are often at their most vulnerable when they meet us. We can help people to feel seen, cared for and build their trust by:

  • turning towards the person
  • introducing ourselves
  • making eye contact
  • using their name

Do I keep people informed - explain the now and the next?

Keeping people informed about what is happening and what the next steps will be can help reduce anxiety and uncertainty. Continuous open dialogue supports people in making informed choices about their care, health and wellbeing.

Research shows that good communication between patients and healthcare providers reduces errors and improves treatment outcomes.

Do I take opportunities to do an extra, kind thing for the service users I meet?

Embrace unexpected acts of kindness.

Small unexpected gestures help to create a sense of caring and compassion. They can make others feel that they are important, valued and cared for. Often it’s the small things that make a big difference.

Our behaviours booklet (PDF, 550 KB, 24 pages)

HSE behaviours - YouTube

How behaviour spreads

Behaviours shape culture

How we behave or ‘show up’ influences the culture within our teams and in our workplaces. This is because we subconsciously learn our behaviours by copying those around us. When we choose to live the 9 behaviours, we potentially influence our peers to do the same. This establishes the foundation for sustainable cultural change.

Finding the people to spread the behaviours

Values in Action explores informal social networks in workplaces and encourage staff to nominate peers they:

  • turn to for trusted information
  • seek support and advice from
  • know can influence others around them

In doing this, we find groups of highly connected and influential people. They are then asked to be motivators for culture change in their local area.

In some areas these people are called champions. They are provided with the knowledge and tools to spread the behaviours.

The champions role is to:

  • live the behaviours
  • talk about the behaviours (in team meetings, at handover, at coffee break)
  • tell stories of the behaviours being lived so people recognise the impact of simple actions
  • engage with others and invite them to join our social movement for culture change

Ensuring the behaviours are not just words but become a way of life

Whilst ViA is a movement led by staff, leaders are necessary to achieve real and sustainable culture change. Our health service leaders are encouraged to visibly and vocally live the 9 behaviours and use them as a guide in their decision making. Leaders also provide support to empower local movements, enabling the behaviours to become a way of life.

Sharing our ViA stories

“If you want to learn about a culture, listen to the stories…..if you want to change a culture, change the stories”, Michael Margolis

Sharing stories of how we put our values into action (everyday examples of the 9 behaviours being lived) helps us understand their positive impact, and influences us to live the behaviours.

Stories have the power to make us think about how we are behaving and what we can do to improve things. We see ourselves in stories, and relate them to our own personal and professional experiences.

Stories can help to make the culture change happen faster (research suggests about 20% faster).

What does ViA involve?

Values in Action is live in many parts of our health service, with new areas joining all the time.

ViA is implemented in partnership with the Engagement and Culture team.

ViA's success is dependent on senior leadership supporting staff to lead their movement locally. If you would like to be a part of bringing ViA to your local service area, contact your local management team office.

Related content

Our behaviours booklet (PDF, 550 KB, 24 pages)

HSE behaviours - YouTube


To find out more about bringing ViA to your local area email

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