Houston we have a problem


“I have by my experience been successfully cloned enough to be able to enter into my sub-cultures communication. I am sufficiently unique to make this communication problematic”

 In health and social care there exists a cultural requirement to discuss issues using only positive frames of reference. You know the type of thing; ‘This [cuts on an unprecedented scale] provides us with the opportunity to reconfigure services to place patients at the heart of what we do’. Do we do it because we are too threatened by reality to take a second look at it, or has it just become a bad habit now?

We talk of driving up standards and making further improvements and when faced with a serious incident we issue statements about learning and moving on so that this type of thing never happens again rather than recognise that it has happened again, & again.

Would we be better to dispense with the charade and introduce a greater degree of reality with our words? Is there a place for using words that accurately reflect the reality of situations, for example calling a problem a problem and not a challenge, would this make us more or less likely to come up with reality based solutions?

Occasionally oblique references are made to reality e.g. when the BBC recently discussed the minimum wage they described these folks as clearing our rubbish, cleaning our offices and looking after the elderly. It would of course be taboo to acknowledge overtly that many of our elderly are cared for by people on a minimum wage, instead we are much more comfortable talking about higher expectations and increased regulation than saying out loud “we are not going to set aside the resources to meet need” .

Perhaps like a non-school uniform day we should have one day a week when we do not allow ourselves to collude with this positive speak and practice out loud having grown up dialogues. One of the diseases health and social care have long suffered from is the inability to say it how it is. If we started one day a week I guess the news would be more informing ‘Today, on say it how it is Tuesday, a spokesperson for the local authority in response to the recent damming report said “we have taken a 38% cut in funding, made the role of social work untenable and emptied the petty cash tin to pay to be regulated, of course our services suck”. Then on BS Wednesday we could articulate “yes there have been challenges, but we would highlight the many positive points in the report and would point out that lessons have been learnt in order that no other families have to experience these poor outcomes again”.


About Get Mental Health Training blog

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