Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Wearing our hearts on our sleeves - thoughts on the Social Care in Partnership (SE) conference, Cardiff January 2012

How fitting that the venue for last month's Social Care in Partnership (SE) conference should be in a church.  It seemed that as I saw each person leave for the day, they were filled with faith and inspiration, believing that we can really make changes to social care that make lives better.

There was so much to take in at the event and in this post I'm going to centre on the presentation given by Dr. David Sheard and his 'Battle for Compassionate Dementia Care".

I don't know if anyone one was expecting such an emotive and passionate call for dementia care to come from the carer's heart and not from process.  You may know David from
BBC Panorama's 'Can Sir Gerry Robinson save dementia care homes'.   

He's been all over Britain and beyond examining the lives of people in these homes and he knows what makes people happy but believes we have a battle to make it happen. Yesterday, he told us there are battles of different models, ideology, professionalism and corporate world. But most of the battles are:

  • Finding leaders
  • Removing 'them and us'
  • Modernising nurses
  • Recognising emotional labour
  • Creating engaging places to live

So David took us through how homes need not to be like hotels or hospitals - they should have 'stuff' in them. They need to be clinical in that they are clean but homes with things in them make more engaging places to live.  Hooks with coats on them, ornaments, scarves and coats, they all go to make a place a home.  He talked of nurses who had separate eating places and toilets - why is this?  The facilities should be good enough for everyone to share. 

He said that nurses responding to their emotions is important and the support should be there for them to do that. Without it we become distanced from conditions that we wouldn't want to live in and we will learn not to recognise when something is not right and strips people of their dignity.

David believes compassion is the radicalism of our time.  He gave us lots of heartfelt insight into his philosophy and practices and everyone at the conference was blown away.

A question from the audience got us all really thinking. Cheryl Haskell from Monmouthshire Council asked - how do we have time to make this possible? 

David's answer was an interesting example for a home he runs. He said that they prioritise, not by having rota and schedules for when task need to be done but by the needs of the people that live in the home. He said that it didn't matter that everyone eats breakfast at the same time, in fact sometimes you could find some people having lunch while others were just starting breakfast. Does that matter as long as everyone is eating when they're ready and living their day in their own time? He said that if somebody wants to wear three dresses back to front if that's what she felt like that day? There's no need to spend time coaxing someone to do something if they're happy doing it their own way. Do you have to ensure all beds are made by 2pm? This relaxing of attitudes can free enough time to get the things that matter to people done and as long as beds are made not by by a set time but in time for someone to sleep in carers can get the most important work done.

So, what do you think? Is it OK to have breakfast and lunch going on at the same time? Is it ok if your mum is wearing three dresses inside out if that's what she wanted and ages happy?

We'd love to hear your thoughts on the conference and also your answers to these questions - how do you feel you can make the way you work more emotional and what are the battles you think should be taken on first?

Here's a short film from YouTube: 'Feelings Matter Most: An Introduction by David Sheard':

Posted by Helen Reynolds from the Dare2Care Wales team

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