A place for kindness in a change-driven health care sector.
Amy Maddison, String Words.
There have been countless changes in our healthcare sector in the last few years. A sector very much growing and transitioning, thanks to some progressive leaps forward in technology and innovative thinking. And this kind of thinking, it’s (ironically) quite contagious across our health care industries, both public and private.
Two trends in particular, appear to be taking the lead:
Acknowledgement that healthcare must grow alongside innovative and forward thinking, infrastructure, as well as an increasingly tech-savvy and digital world.
Greater conviction than ever before, that the consumer/patient experience should be at the core of all great quality care.
While person-centred care is at the heart of it all, I tend to believe the intended outcome of these changes tap into the same sweet pot of global honey. A sector ultimately wanting to build greater connection, care, compassion and understanding - engendering kindness by appreciating the needs of another, and these needs being acknowledged on behalf of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
And while there are boundless opportunities afore us, so too is there great risk. For, if we focus too much on transforming ourselves, and not enough on our intended outcome and that transformational effect, we lose sight of what we’re trying to achieve. I find that dangerous territory, particularly for our caring workforce and the roles they play.
I make great assumption, but would not be surprised to see an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism, a reduction in retention rates, and cases of workplace bullying and harassment, coincide these trends of changes at times - and more than we may like to realise. The busy nature of change can often mean that support networks, resources and the time needed to effectively implement them are often stripped bare from our carers and leaders.
I worry because with many of these changes, our carers and leaders are now being asked to take on more than they can. They are being asked to be Marketers and experts in new fields, and the time they can offer to their care and leadership roles - and indeed, the time for each other and their patients - is reducing as a result. A busy and changing landscape like that, it can be a difficult environment to remember to place kindness at the forefront, and still have the patience (and patients) to do what our carers and leaders do so well. Care.
It seems to me, an adverse effect of what we hope to achieve. For what our healthcare workforce does, is build that connection, care, compassion and understanding that we want for our patients and residents already - the outcome that we seek.
I think there is nothing more valuable to this sector, than supporting our carers and leaders do what they already do, every day.
With this in mind, I’d like to also acknowledge a third trend I’ve gleefully noticed, which sometimes goes under the radar, or is perhaps a secondary to the above. Though, even in the background, it is continually growing in accountability and popularity:
Growth in workforce health, wellbeing and recognition programs that bid both personal and professional development, which extend to everyone in the workforce, and at every working level.
And, being a lover of kindness, I’d love to see that flourish! To me, this trend so desperately needs to find home wherever person-centred care is at heart. Our people being our patients, and our families, and those prospectively. Our people also being our workforce and volunteers too, and perhaps we don’t realise that often enough. They intimately know our consumer, they naturally want the best for them, and they have chosen a career of care for that sole purpose.
Let us find value in that opportunity, share with them ways they can do what they want to do, even better than before. Guide them, support them, and help them flourish. Teach them, and foster an environment of kindness in your organisation, company, practice. Give them the resources they need during times of change and new learning, so they can focus on what they are called to do. And everything you hope to achieve - all changes, all dynamics and transformations, they will take flight if you choose to care for your people first.
An ode to kindness 🎈
just put one word in front of the other -
(all lowercase, so as not to startle)
but make sure they take you seriously
(you're more courageous than you know).
breath in the toffee breeze -
then, tap lightly to sweet swoons
speak softly to the detail
when you notice all they do.
gift genuine rise to arms (and eyes)
which light their cheeks in tune
and boast of all their talents
which found their way to you.