ΤThe Healthcare Commission came out its 5th and last report on the State of Healthcare in December. The report summarised the overall picture as “positive, with targets relating to the health of the population either met or on the way to being met with life expectancy increasing and rates of premature death due to cancer and circulatory disease are falling. However the report went on to make the general point that “we have seen little change in the scores that trusts get for the experience of patients.”
What has to happen for the dials to move in the year to come? A recent report from the Kings Fund saw the authors Joanne Goodrich and Jocelyn Cornwell worry about how hard it was to find good evidence about the impact of patient-centred initiatives. They assess the evidence as all too frequently “patchy, fragmented and tends to be descriptive”. What is the mechanism that connects the intervention and a positive outcome? National policies and strategies are often no help at all.
The MAC Partnership have long been sure of a key part in that mechanism is. It is the people delivering the care. And they are helped enormously by users who know what they want and say so in a way that does not come over as aggressive and abusive. If staff feel good about the service they give, then they will convey that feeling to the people they serve. The greatest early failure of customer care was the imprisonment of unempowered and under-resourced people in the call centre factories manufacturing (if you get through) a response but never service, never a human connection to the person on the other end of the phone. One of the two heartening examples quoted in ‘Seeing the Person in the Patient’ shows how compassionate and empathic staff can deliver effective patient-centred care. The example comes from the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center a non-profit organisation based in the Massachusetts General Hospital and its biggest programme ‘The Schwartz Center Rounds®’.
If you want to understand more about these two virtues of compassion and empathy and how to apply them in a practical way in both your professional and personal life, in my experience you can do no better than to seek out UK practitioners and trainers of Nonviolent Communication® at this website.
A good point, I think, both to finish and to begin again. All the best in 2009 from all of us in the Partnership.