The power of personal stories as an enabler for effective change never ceases to amaze me. The roll out of the Personal Health budget programme is no exception to this rule https://www.england.nhs.uk/personal-health-budgets/phbs-in-action/patient-stories/. However, in order to further build momentum dedicated champions who are able to share these personal stories widely and allow others to understand what it is like to walk in their footsteps are required.

Whether you like or loathe football, one cannot fail to mention the World Cup when writing a blog in this period. The impact football has across the globe and the passion it generates across a large number of people cannot be disputed. Individual players, managers and national leaders are put under significant pressure to achieve what in football is the ultimate goal – bringing the World Cup home.

In many ways that is no different to the pressure experienced by staff, managers and leaders of health and social care services. Football continues to attract larger and larger investments, creating an environment in which teams may try to buy success. This approach may not always succeed and regardless of the sums invested at the end of a knock out round game, only one team will be declared the winner. Within health and social care so often there are successful services despite a lack of investment. The driver here of course is not pride or adulation for your team but a passion to improve the experiences of services users, their families and carers. This doesn’t detract from the fact that occasionally we hear about poor personal experiences through lack of adequate investment, something we continue to strive to address.

I began my career as a volunteer within the voluntary sector, a choice heavily influenced by my supportive parents Ethel and George who lived during and after the 2nd World War. This was a time where families survived through the support provided within the community where neighbours supported those in need and worked together to make things better for all. A sense of strong spirits was fostered creating stalwart leaders who commanded the respect of the community.

Returning back to the subject of resources, would extra resources have helped during the time after the war, of course they would. Would additional resources for social care be welcomed, of course. However a big difference now compared to after the war is the change in how individuals interact within society. We have become much more self-centred. There remains a core of dedicated selfless people who are already giving so much of their time for free, but it appears that they are now the minority. We must accept that public services are strained and near bursting point, professional staff at all levels are left frustrated, tired and stressed. It is therefore vital that we support leaders that allocate resources to hear, understand and learn from people’s stories and use this as a driver when making their decisions.

Value the role of the voluntary sector and the excellent work they are doing, but recognise that there are also many personal stories that are not so positive. These are not always due to poor performance but can also be due to a reduction in the number of dedicated individuals undertaking these roles as well as a number of unfilled vacancies.

As someone that has worked hard for many years to support people in need and who has articulated George’s story many times to try and make a difference in the way we deliver EoLC, I ask those reading this blog to personally act.

Act by:

  • Saying thank you to staff you come across in health and social care regardless of their level,
  • Thanking volunteers and people in need themselves for being brave about sharing their stories for us to learn from,
  • Being a stalwart leader and keeping up the representations to national leaders who have the power to make the right choice when it comes to resource allocations

This brings me to my final point. I was recently humbled when awarded an MBE for my services to vulnerable people and I am sure that George and Ethel would be proud of their son for doing as they taught by example. I would like to dedicate my MBE to George for galvanising my passion for improvement in how we support people in their last year of life. Please take the time to read his story and see what I mean. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4345778/

 

I know that if you read my blog you are more than likely doing great things for others in need and so thank you for your continued service.