I recently read a book "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande. It brought up some interesting questions on how we as healthcare professionals view frail and older patients. I then saw a post on facebook about 'wandering patients' especially in care homes. Imagine being away from everything familiar to you and not knowing what's going on. Wouldn't you 'wander the corridors' searching for answers.
I was recently in a foreign country on a project. We were met by the team and checked into a lovely hotel. And then, there was silence. The team did not turn up again for 4 days, nobody communicated to me what was happening. I was told not to worry, I was in a nice hotel, with good food. Just 'relax'.
I couldn't 'relax'. I wanted to know whats happening, how would it impact me, what decisions were being made without consulting me. It didn't matter if these would be rewarding decisions.
This made me think about patients who are moved from the comfort of being independent and near everything they know and love to suddenly being 'left out the loop' and nobody explaining what is happening. If you leave your glasses on the table at home, it stays there. In a nursing home it gets moved by a nurse or well meaning person. Of course, you would then feel confused and wander the passages looking for things.
Today, when you see a patient and decide to make a well meaning decision on their behalf - Remember that unless they are part of that decision, it has a high probability of failure.
Disease and death are inevitable in life. We investigate, we treat. We have lots of high tech machines to poke and prod until we find probable answers so that we can pat ourselves on the back. I value research and the what it has done for us in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
As a training company, we always ensure we are mapping our material to current guidelines and health strategy. However, while we recognise the importance of identifying disease and knowing the treatment options, we also see great value in effective communication. We need to see beyond the disease and see the person for all their idiosyncrasies, and try to understand them within the context of their own environment. Then only can we develop concordance and have meaningful conversations.
This means we start with ourselves and understand our own attitudes to health and disease. We have therefore started a series of sessions on how to develop resilience, effective communication and working collaborating. Our consultant psychiatrist will be discussing a range of topics in a. series of evening sessions. Please click on Updates on our web page www.belmatt.co.uk or join the discussion on our WhatsApp page.