Commitment is an act, not a word – Jean Paul Satre
Out of the dozens of nurses and doctors who have looked after Isaac over his first 3 years, the ones that stand out do so for one of two reasons ; either they were spectacularly good, or horrendously bad. The middle group, well that’s where a lot of people practice, neither noticeably bad or good.
I could go into work on Monday and do my job. Do what’s on my job description, nothing more, nothing less. I’d retire with the knowledge that I was solid, dependable. Great. Would I have made the biggest difference that I could though for the young people I’m employed to deliver services to? No. It’s the old saying ‘if you always do what you always did, then you’ll always get what you always got’. If everyone came in work and did JUST what they had to do, there would be hardly any progress.
True value comes from doing the extras and having a desire to improve. Isaac has 18 different healthcare professionals involved with him at the moment, and if each one came into work on Monday and decided to put 1% extra into their work with us as a family, then the total would be more than the sum of it’s parts ; it would feel like an improvement of more than 18% to us, and Isaac.
So what does that 1% look like? It could be anything from a physio thinking ‘i’ll ring the OT and tell them about my visit yesterday to Isaac so that the family don’t have to relay all the detail of what I did’, it could be taking the time to not just make a referral to a playworker in the hospital when Isaac’s staying in there but also explaining on the referral what sort of toys he enjoys most. It could be making sure that Isaac’s big brother understands what the equipment around Isaac does when he’s in hospital. Tiny things really, but you never know when you’ll do the thing that makes a huge difference. It’s pretty simple, just pledging to yourself that you’ll be better tomorrow than you were today.
One key to commitment, for me, is reflection. We’re all great at doing something at work, and thinking it went great because we got the outcome we wanted. The difference is, to show commitment to improve is to check out before the self back slapping starts, ‘did it make the effect I wanted on the people I want to make the difference to?’ It can be harsh to be self critical but you doing that learning on your time stops you doing it on Isaac’s time.
I can’t instil commitment as a personal value, but what I can say with confidence is that Isaac’s quality of future depends on there being people committed to improving the systems he’s involved in, and committed to giving him the highest quality care they can when they’re looking after him. I’ve seen what happens when people aren’t committed ; waiting week upon week for a consultant to answer a query about medication, meeting with commissioners who sympathise about the difficulties it causes us having Isaac’s care split over 3 hospitals meaning we have to act as conduits for information but then also refusing our requests to put him a ‘communications’ file together because ‘there’s no process for it’. The sister who tried to defend the reasons why the medication we give Isaac at home is taken off us when he enters the ward because he’s ‘in hospital’ rather than empathising that whilst there may well be good policy reasons, it seems like madness to us. These are people who’ll still be making the same mistakes in 5 years, 10 years time with other families, no danger of looking at the horizon so keep looking down.
Lots of people who’ve treated Isaac are clearly committed ; I can feel it, see it, it speaks. If you’re committed you’ll make huge differences, even if you promise a 1% improvement every other day then you’ll be three times more effective in the eyes of the children and families you care for by this time next year 😉
Thanks for reading, it’s been a lot of writing this week around the 6C’s, hope you’ve found it interesting or at least inoffensive. I’ll end by saying what I said earlier in the week – Isaac owes his life to committed Doctors and nurses ; ones who would look beyond the first explanation to seek another and find the most effective way to help him. Because of that, I’m er, committed, to giving back everything I can to help.