Monday, 28 March 2016

Emphasising humanity







Emphasising humanity

I'm in an unusual position just now. I'm transitioning from convalescing after treatment for breast cancer again to engaging back with the external world of life and work. It's always a challenging stage and I feel I'm pacing out the boundaries of what helps me return to all that life holds and what keeps me well. I suspect it will be a lifelong challenge. And one I share with many others.
But my work is in the field of health and well-being and there's a different lens I'm seeing that world through just now and that's really very valuable. There's something fine tuned to seeing what really matters and equally being aware of what doesn't. The report on the national conversation on a healthier Scotland was launched recently and also I have been part of discussions on bringing the Buurtzorg model to Scotland as well as exploring what we can learn too from the Alaskan NUKA model. It feels like there is a shift happening and my sense is that we have an opportunity to really respond to that. The consultation that happened across Scotland's many communities drew out some strong and compelling themes.

  The need for a greater focus on preventing illness through education and support to help us make healthy lifestyle choices;
  The importance of mental health and wellbeing and the role of connected communities and good support networks as part of that;
  The themes of person-centred care, support to self-manage health and the importance of a holistic approach;
  Increased awareness of the full range of social care services and how it benefits different people, along with recognising and valuing the important role of unpaid carers;
  The need for more accessible and flexible services, better partnership working and joined up care, and an easier way of signposting people to whats available;
  Recognition of the challenges ahead and the need to set clear priorities for the future.

These are hugely important themes and what is key now is to have the right culture and context for these themes and our people to flourish. The Buurtzorg model prioritises Humanity over Bureaucracy and my sense is that needs to be the priority for us in the here and now in Scotland as integration becomes the new norm and we set out the direction of travel for the next phase of health and social care. The NUKA model which emerged from a health care system in Alsaka that was essentially broken created a new platform to enable health and wellbeing in its community using the WELLNESS acronym as core concepts.

Core Concepts
Work together in relationship to learn and grow
Encourage understanding
Listen with an open mind
Laugh and enjoy humour throughout the day
Notice the dignity and value of ourselves and others
Engage others with compassion
Share our stories and our hearts
Strive to honour and respect ourselves and others

The strong theme of humanity is common to both of these transformational care organisations. Although person-centredness is a key commitment, whats less evident is of the system working in a way that supports this in its people as well as those it serves. I hear signs of the stress in the system that in many ways is understandable going through a huge transition like the integration of health and social care. The focus perhaps inevitably has been on structures, roles, systems and so on but it's the people who will make it work. Its the people who need to share that vision of the future and know they will be supported to prioritise it.Its the people who will make the transformation. And to do that they will need to lead and work from their humanity, not as too often can be the case, feel the need to hide it.
The recent Think Tank we hosted at the Health and Social Care Academy had a rich discussion about what will enable this kind of change. Emphasising humanity was one of the themes. And from where I'm sitting with a foot in recovery from cancer and the other foot in enabling transformational change in health and social care nothing, absolutely nothing can be more important than that. So come April 1 when the integrated boards become legal and as we shift to implementing the recommendations of a healthier Scotland I call on them to emphasise humanity over bureaucracy and show courageous leadership ( another of the themes from our think tank). Leadership that listens and responds, that supports innovation,that knows success comes from failing too, that trusts more and puts the people at the centre, throughout the whole system. And if they also emulate the core WELLNESS concepts from NUKA ,I'm absolutely certain everyone will benefit and we will achieve a flourishing health and social care system.
 

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