Our vision: to transform access to medical care.

Let’s play Happy Family Doctors

Live to play

“Play is the key to emotional and psychological well-being” – Donald M Winnicott.  He means it’s fun.

Preparation, for 2 players

1.  Take out the jokers, as we only need the 52 cards.

2.  Take off the aces, lay in the middle of the table in line.

3.  Split the remainder into 2 halves of 24 cards.  One has all the hearts and half of the clubs and diamonds.  The other has all the spades, and the rest of the clubs and diamonds, 12, 6 and 6 of each.

4.  Sit opposite each other across the table and take one half each.

The Play

1.  Shuffle your pack, very important.

2.  Split your pack into exact halves – easy on a flat surface.

3.  Flip over one of these halves and put back on top.

4.  Shuffle again, important again.

5.  Play:  take the top card from your pack.  Is it face up?  Put it below the ace of the same suit.  Face down?  Put it under any ace.

6.  Keep going down your pack, until there are no cards left and the pile below each ace has exactly six cards.  If there is no room left under the right suit, put the card somewhere else.


The object is to have every face up card under the same suit as the ace.  You score 0 if all are correct.  You score -1 for each face up card under the wrong ace.

Write down your score each round.  Can you get any better?  Of the two of you, who is the first to a zero score?  How do you change your tactics?

Now gather up the cards, all face down, and shuffle again at point 1.  Get a move on!

OK, so what does it all mean?

Aces represent the doctors (they like that).  The cards are patients, half of whom care which doctor they see, while the other half don’t care.  You are the receptionist, and your job is to ensure that where possible, each patient has their choice of doctor, while each doctor has the same number of patients to deal with.  The twist is that some doctors have more requests than others.  Aha.

This is also known as “The Continuity Game”.  Relational continuity means how often a patient can see the same doctor, and it’s one of the most valuable quantities in primary care. Look it up on our website and elsewhere, see how we measure it and what a difference it makes.  But here is where you learn how to make continuity, on reception.

Advanced scoring

You can have more fun by adding the points on the cards in the wrong piles.  Picture cards are -10.  You can go against the clock, on your own or in pairs.


With the right tactics, roughly how often should you be able to score zero?  Email your training partner.


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