Caring?

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The inspiration for this blog space is my little red book in which are held the thought provoking quotes I have run into over the years. My thinking is that it may be fascinating to offer these up to reflect on our present situation in the field of health and social care. And so to my first quote ladies and gentlemen:

 

“The growth of the care industry coincides with a loss of caring in society”

 

So the more we move on from families and communities providing support, the more distanced we get from those in need. I guess if you walk far enough down that road (which we surely have) then caring and compassion can become a distant echo, the professional communal memory dropping empathy from its play list. Has the road in question become a one way street, a mind set only interrupted from time to time, when provoked by the latest scandal (and my God aren’t we gorging ourselves on scandals)?

When we do dare to talk about compassion we lay the notion across the alter of our existing mental architecture i.e. mechanistic structures designed as if to inhibit humane responses. Thus empathising needs to be evidenced and allowing people to retain some power and control generates an industry called person-centred care. Do we do it because as a professional community we no longer trust ourselves?

Or is it that we do not trust each other, if Harold Shipman can murder his patients then perhaps we are all at it! We know its a ridiculous thought but we still can’t stop ourselves creating systems and processes to ensure checks and balances in the system. All fine until we consider that resources are finite and would we not prefer that doctors spent their time with their patients rather than meeting endless revalidation and Responsible Officer requirements?

Bearing in mind that you cannot fatten a pig by weighing it, do we want to spend our resources on those in need of care or on regulating those providing it? Despite the stark choice there is to be made we never have had the debate. The delicious irony being that the less money we make available to front line services the more likely there will be a problem – the more there are problems the more we need to regulate right?….and the more we allocate to weighing the beast the less we have to feed it; rather a self fulfilling prophecy.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to visit Bulgaria in relation to special education and social care and alongside my companions was horrified by the standards this poor country was able to provide. I will spare you the details, suffice to say that a large institution high up in the mountains where the winter temperature dropped to below minus 10, had chicken wire, rather than glass, in the windows. The workforce were the women from the local village who, untrained and paid a pittance but unhindered by bureaucracy, provided a level of old-fashioned caring and interaction that warmed the heart and reflected badly on where procurement and outsourcing and commissioning and tendering and regulation and the like have got us to today…

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