Before I say anything, I’d like to begin by thanking the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme for starting me along this journey, and, Helen Sanderson for making it meaningful. If anyone is interested in reading more, please check-out Helen’s books or Helen Sanderson Associates’ website.
I have written a few blogs about Person-Centredness – mostly how we treat and care for patients, or, as I prefer to consider them, people. Much of this has been in relation to those living with dementia or others who become delirious and end-up in hospital.
About 18 months ago I realised (or was helped to realise), that in order to receive Person-Centred Care, you needn’t have dementia or delirium, or even be old, for that matter – just being a person was enough. Yet, we work and live in a system and society which has created pathways and avenues of existence that seek to distract from this essential component of who we are; things get in the way – IPhones, Google, mass communication, data streaming, time compression, schedules, all seek to pull us from what it is to be human or a person.
It started in Mallard Ward and has spread-out – radiated might be the best word; the sense that behind the fear and anxiety, the misunderstanding and miscommunication are people, essentially vulnerable individuals who all experience the same ups and downs, worries and challenges.
Moving from the care that we provide our patients, to the ways in which we work together, collaborate, interact and listen, to see that I am a person, as are you and they and us…
Person-Centre Care, has sort of become the life-raft that I have clung to during the past difficult months, it is the centre I know I can always return to when things are getting tough, and, although not a panacea (for nothing really is), it effectively seems to work in every situation, at every time when things aren’t going well.
What are Person-Centred Teams? They are working together with others in teams – this is self-evident, but not everyone knows what a team is, in the real sense; a team being a group of people with a shared understanding and purpose who are able to communicate openly and freely, and, who can respond and negotiate challenges and obstacles from within, not by dictate, not in isolation, but through togetherness and collaboration.
Many people believe they operate in teams – I can think of a few in my own organisation, when in reality, the way they organise and work together are in no sense ‘real’ – their purpose is ill defined, or at odds with what they do, their ability to influence the way they work is limited or sometimes nil, resulting in frustration and paralysis.
The English Academic and thinker Michael West in his work has described these elements of teams and, over many years, demonstrated the incredible outcomes when people work as teams – when individuals come-together to share ideas, resources and ability.
Underlying this is the question of what allows teams to not only be real but to be successful, sustaining, organic – living? It is the move from teams that operate at a certain level of – evolution, into teams which acknowledge the uniqueness, the diversity, variety of each member. That allows people to connect as equals who approach one another from a sense of enquiry and curiosity, who ask before judging, who seek to understand as a prerequisite to engagement.
This I feel is the key to Person-Centred Teams.
Lots lies underneath this – processes, tools and theories as to how people can be supported and, to see that it is though identifying what brings us together, our humanness – likely our failings, limitations and vulnerability which when acknowledged, accepted and appreciated allow us to grow.