Its been almost a year since I put my ramblings on a blog for the first time. What motivated me that is what motivates me now ; there’s things about what matters to Isaac that don’t show up on audits, dashboards, commissioning reports or anywhere other than to Isaac and us as his mum and dad. Some nurses, Drs, Physios, Pharmacists and others have done some amazing things for Isaac and the family and not even realised they’ve done them, and walked away. The blogs hopefully put across what is important to Isaac.
The 6C’s was my first blog project ; to show how Isaac had lived the 6C’s up to that point. Compassion was my starting point and almost a year on I think I’ll focus on it again.
It’s going to be a trip down Compassion Lane to the times when Isaac experienced compassionate care. Those sepia soaked days when compassionate care was easy for HCP’s to deliver because there was time, resources, support, great management, amazing leadership and everything in the stars aligned to allow those golden moments of practice. Those defining moments of compassion that I remember, that Isaac remembers and that will affect his whole life.
Thing is, those sepia soaked days didn’t ever exist. The reality is, that on the occasions when Isaac has experienced professionals giving him what I as a dad define as compassionate care, they were under the same pump that they probably always are. There’s never a good time for giving that bit extra.
I’ll share an example. Sadly, about 3 weeks ago, Isaac broke his femur during his physiotherapy stretches with Lynsey (mum). Same exercises, same routine, same pressure, same place. Sorry, I feel like I need to add that sentence because I can sense the reaching for safeguarding referrals and the queue of Social Workers at the front door (nothing worse, blah blah – if you dont know already i’ve been one all my adult life). Anyhow, the poor little guy’s leg broke and an ambulance was needed to get him to hospital. There was a bit of a wait for one – understandable, it wasn’t life threatening – and eventually an ambulance arrived. If you’re familiar with the geography you’ll know that a crew coming from Burscough to Chorley is not exactly local but such was the pressures on the service that was what had happened.
Instantly on arrival the paramedic introduced herself to Isaac, and touched his hand to let her know she was talking to him. A tiny touch, but faced with a little boy with obvious disabilities a lot of people still unfortunately talk to us parents first. She then took control, slowed things right down, seeing that we were all not so much panicking but very anxious. Doing her job in other words some may say. What wasn’t part of the job though was the constant reassurance to a little boy who can’t talk back and the checking out with him if it was ok to move him even though there wont be a verbal answer. That for me IS compassion ; making Isaac feel better when he was in a lot of discomfort. It’s not about giving drugs, taking his history or form filling, it’s about actually caring about how he experiences that process.
North West Ambulance Service is probably full of people who do exactly what that ambulance crew did, and if I walked into one of their staff meetings and said ‘listen to what this crew did, it was so compassionate’ their colleagues would say ‘we ALL do that’. The point is, in 4 years so far we had never – thankfully – had to call an ambulance for Isaac and that crew on the day were in a position to create a legacy, or ruin one. That crew themselves have no idea the impact they had. They possibly think ‘we did a professional job’ – they certainly did but the bits that made the difference were the bits that are not in the job description.
Their day was probably not shaping up to to be amazingly good ; covering a long way from their base, lunch break delayed, a struggle to find our address and then a complex little boy to take to hospital. Their morale may have been low, their tiredness levels high, their pay levels too low, part of a stretched service. But they put delivering kind and thorough care at the front of everything else.
Now, as Ethan my other twin four year old says ‘but why?’(well, he actually says it at least 10 times with total disregard to your previous 9 answers but you get the idea)’. Why on earth do they do the whole ‘compassion’ thing in the face of everything else?
Is it because of their personal values? Without a doubt. Being a paramedic or ambulance technician is a job suited most to people who care about other people, he says stating the obvious. There has to be some alignment in the value base of the person. But just because you believe in something doesn’t make you do it. I truly believe that I would be better off starting to jog regularly and eat healthier, but there’s a dissonance between heart and mind.
Is it because of team values or organisational values? For Isaac there needs to be a culture that EXPECTS what happened with him to be the ‘norm’. Isaac needs there to be leadership that notices it, values it and rewards it.
When people say that the 6C’s or the focus on compassionate care is a moot point because it is what they were always doing then as a dad of a little fella with a life long disability I’m over the moon. It means then that the building to get it even better will be easier, the foundation is there. Isaac needs people who will continue to strive to deliver compassionate care in every interaction, not teams or individuals who think they’ve nailed it already. That benchmarking tool you did back in 2014 will probably be pretty dusty when Isaac’s 21 years old and needs someone like that paramedic to take control of his care in a kind, empathic, positive way. Compassionate care being shifted front and centre in strategy, commissioning and practice is the only way that as a dad I can feel confident that Isaac’s future care will continue to be as high quality as it has been.