Friday, 8 February 2013

Mid staffs...holding up the mirror on society?




I was 8 years old when I decided I wanted to be a nurse. I had had my tonsils out and was a bit scared and definitely sore. The nurses who cared for me, made me think, I want to be like them...they make people feel better, they stop people feeling scared. I would like to do that.

Fast forward a few years and I am choosing a future career on leaving school. You can't become a nurse, you should go to university was one of the main themes of advice I got. What I heard in those words was the lack of respect for the profession, the implicit why would nurses (women after all in the main...) need to be educated at university? Caring work in our culture is not valued, poorly rewarded and generally not seen quite good enough as a profession by some let’s be honest.

But I found a way to do both, go to university and study nursing. I loved the course as it focused from day one on a person centred approach. Now it’s many years since I have been a nurse, but scratch the surface and it’s still a nurse you find. It's that drive to help people back to health, to ease pain, to make a system better to enable the best care, to make every person count- that makes me do what I do.

The Francis report has therefore grieved me deeply.  I do believe there is excellent care provided in health and social care and I have personally experienced it recently. My family however have seen both sides of the coin. A lack of person centred care resulted in a readmission, creating more fear, loss of confidence, physical decline. It could have been avoided. Organisation centred care not person centred is costly and less safe.

I have said before I think this is driven by systems and targets and laws of unintended consequences in part. But I suspect-no-I know, it's more than that. Does the system drive out compassion, killing the very motivation that brought people to the profession in the first place? Do we honestly need to teach nurses and (other health care professions let’s not forget) compassion or do we need to create the right environment for that to flourish? But we do need to help health and social care professionals understand and fully embrace a person centred approach. Right now its counter cultural and that needs to be the focus for change.

But what of our wider society? Is this crisis in care not in part a reflection of our wider society? Have we lost the art of caring for each other? I know animal charities see elements of this. Dogs returned for re homing because they just don’t suit any more, like an old handbag. Pets bored and under stimulated returned for scratching the furniture. Loneliness is our fastest growing long term condition, with a similar effect on health as smoking. Ageism is in part driving cultures of care. Need I go on?

Its complex but we collectively must tackle this. Let’s not scapegoat a profession who deserve better and have been told for years we must focus on organisational needs like targets and budgets not caring for people. And let’s not pretend more resources or more regulation will fix this. 

And so I return to heartfulness……..heartful health and social care, heartful organisations to work in and a heartful society to be part of and contribute to. It’s a whole hearted/ whole system response we need. Now I’m up for making that happen…are you?

Reasons to be cheerful….walking on the beach in February.My new self-employed status means I am flexible enough to plan my walks around the tide some days this week and it’s been uplifting. Cara has had to move up a size in her coat and as you will see she looks like she has pinched her Mums coat to wear….but she was cosy and its cold out there!

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