Your great mistake is act the drama as if you were alone. As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely, even you at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence and the chorus crowding out your solo voice. You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom. Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity. David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You.
Last week I had the great privilege of joining with others at Our Power to Create The New Story of Care held at Westminster University, London facilitated by Andy Bradley and Micheline Mason. A day set aside for 60 people to come together and talk about how to re-humanise the health and social care system in the UK and to build tactical responses and connections that will support this outcome.
I was reminded again that we are a social, empathic species – we need each other and we need to belong to teams; teams that nurture us and create space and possibility for us to embody kindness and compassion in our work place. For too long we have looked to mechanistic models of improvement in health and social care. We have measured and weighed outcomes that are disconnected from the human beings who must deliver on them.
The evidence is clear: we need to belong to stable, effective, resilient teams. I sat in a circle of 60 passionate, caring and intelligent people and it was if they were resistance fighters, trying to find ways to deliver compassionate quality care over the borders by cover of night, hoping not to be sprung by some bureaucratic red tape or performance survey. These stories were no different to ones I hear in Australia. We are at risk of wearing our workforce out by raining down on them with competing priorities ( or what Michael West, Thought Leader at the Kings Fund, so eloquently refers to as “priority thickets”) and projects that disrupt team stability.
… if we want staff to treat patients with compassion and respect and care and dignity, then we must treat staff with compassion and care and respect and dignity. Twelve years of running the national [NHS] staff survey have shown us that there are very clear relationships between what staff say about their experience of work and what patients say about the quality of care that they receive. Staff views of their leaders predicts patients’ satisfaction with the care they experience. Michael West, Leading Cutures that Deliver High Quality Compassionate Care.
As I travel on this Social Innovation Fellowship the strongest theme I am picking up is about a new era of compassion and kindness and connectedness. I’m hearing it everywhere I go. Maybe the world is finally finished with the mechanistic model and is ready to turn towards a dialogic intelligence.
I’m learning a lot about how people are developing innovative ways of supporting each other to deliver the care we need in the health system and in some instances there are leaders who are fully supportive of this imperative. I’m very keen when I return to Australia to work with a health service to prototype a model for creating a kind and compassionate health service.
Next week we’re heading to Brighton ( a little walk on the pebble beach perhaps) and then Birmingham.
Thanks for traveling with me.