Monday, 16 September 2013

Induction with a difference

I trudged along to the induction at my new Trust. This was the 12th organisational induction I have attended, a number which says more about the nature of my training than it does about me.

It's difficult to get too excited about hearing a new version of fire training, or information governance. But this induction was different.

After coffee in the morning, and the session about the organisational values and aims, there was a session labelled something like 'The perspective of the service user.' An inauspicious title perhaps, but one which had a huge impact on me, and made me ask why out of all 12 Trusts I have worked in, this was the first one to place the perspective of the patients and their carers on centre-stage.

It was a powerful experience. Watching the nervousness of the man who told us about his journey through the system, dealing with treatment-resistant depression made it clear, that we were not just being offered an insight, we were being given a privilege. Mental health will only lose its stigma when we learn to talk about it openly, but it takes some brave individuals to lead that charge.

He was followed by another man, who told us of his experiences of looking after his wife, who suffered from bipolar disorder, with all of its incumbent challenges. The problem for them was that it took her years to be diagnosed with bipolar: every doctor she saw told her she had depression, because she only presented when she was low, and they refused to include her husband in the consultation.

Both of them had reason to be upset: they had both at times been disappointed by the response of the service, by the response of individuals. But they had both seen it all improve, and they both had met people who did little things that made a big difference.

They wanted us to know that what we do makes a difference to the lives of ordinary people, and that what we do is important. They wanted us to know that they way we do our jobs makes a difference to the lives of people who are suffering. We all have the power to make a difference in a job like ours, and I think that they simply wanted to remind us of that.

I asked them whether they had any advice on what we should do to help ourselves and those around us be as good as we could be; to avoid being the people who lacked empathy, or made them feel that they didn't matter.

I was struck by what they said. They said that we need to remember that what we do isn't just a job, it is more than that.

They also said that patients need to remember that we are people too, and that we can also have bad days.

It's a simple message, but it's a good one.

There aren't many induction sessions that I remember clearly, but I think I'll remember this one. 12th time lucky, I suppose. And at least it's for a Trust that I hope to be working in for a long time.

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