In February the National Roadshow for the EoLC Programme presented another opportunity for me to advocate for social care and social workers. The event focused on the London region so I was able to showcase some of the improvements and achievements of the LondonADASS EoLC Network in my presentation ‘Perfection - not an option!’
I reflected on the significant size of the workforce involved in caring for people who have health and social care needs, as well as the current challenge of ensuring effective communication skills training is in place. It is important, however, to remain realistic about the standards to which we can deliver services - particularly for people in their last year of life - so the theme of my presentation was to avoid letting perfection become the enemy of ‘good enough’.
I spoke about a close friend (who was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age) preparing for her death and how for her, perfection was not high on her list of priorities. This wonderful mum, wife and excellent social worker spent all her adult life caring for others. She was one of the most generous people I have known and was always immaculately attired with never a hair out of place. This simple pleasure was cruelly stolen when she underwent chemotherapy.
Despite the impact of her hair loss she would not let it affect her mood or glamour, which she maintained through the creation of an amazing wig, courtesy of a friend in the theatre business. It took two or three sessions to get the style, colour and chic look just right. I recall the moment I first saw her new look and thought that while not completely perfect, it was good enough for her and greatly improved her self-confidence.
Sadly she didn’t survive the cancer and died at home with her family around her, but she showed me something which I have gone on to witness in others who find themselves in such a position. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about listening and helping people to feel comfortable about themselves in spite of adversity.
Sticking with the coiffing theme I recognised that hairdressers and barbers are often excellent communicators, despite not receiving formal training in EoL specialist care. Owing to their excellent communication skills, these professionals are able to make people feel good about themselves by engaging in personal, genuinely interested conversation. Take a moment to think about your own time at the hairdresser and you will realise that the key to helping people feel good about themselves is simple, honest conversation (well, a stylish cut helps too!). “How has your day been? What can I do for you today? Do you want the usual or something new?” By keeping it simple and responding to someone’s wishes and feelings you can make them feel valued and in control. This doesn’t require getting hung up on perfection.
To view the many thought-provoking presentations from the Roadshow, click this link.
In other news, the Ambitions Partnership continues to thrive and at this week’s meeting it was good to see a revised Memorandum of Understanding being agreed and a renewed #eolcommitment being established. There are great opportunities to make sure that service improvements are person-centred and well-coordinated. To avoid similar initiatives unnecessarily trying to reinvent the wheel, it is important that we all use the Knowledge Hub to share learning, new products and resources.
For some time Dr Bee Wee, NHSE National Clinical Director for EoLC, and I have talked about setting up a forum for Regional NHS and Social Care leads to come together. Bee achieved that this month by inviting ASC leads to her Regional Network meeting in March and it was great to see the Social Care perspective represented in discussions and for links across the ADASS regions to be strengthened.
Understanding how the national programme ties directly into the National Programme Board work streams is invaluable and Bee has kindly invited us to join this group. If there are any issues that you would like raised at the meetings or if you would like to represent your region and become part of the ADASS group then please let me know.
To end, I would also like to bring your attention to the recently published End of Life Care Core Skills Education and Training Framework , which I would highly recommend you read.
Thanks again for your support and keep up the good work.