A very significant week
We all knew that the past week would be challenging. The Francis Report into care, or lack of it, at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital was very distressing to read. Like most people, I was deeply saddened by the stories of neglect but, if I am honest, I wasn't surprised by any of it. Tragically, we have heard about these incidents, and similar ones at other hospitals, on too many occasions. Complaining about it is one thing, solving the problem is much harder.
Our passionate belief within Kissing it Better is that engaging the most dynamic organisations within a hospital's catchment area and inviting their members to come onto the wards, or other areas within the hospital, with their specialised skills, can go a long way to lifting the spirits of patients, their visitors and staff. Once everyone has been 'sparked up' by these wonderful guests, everyone feels more energised and care starts to improve.
It has always been a challenge for Kissing it Better to get certain departments within a Trust to understand that our aims should not conflict with any, of the many, hospitals rules. Whilst the majority of hospital staff instantly see the tremendous value of our work, infection control, safeguarding, estates etc all need a great deal of explanation from us before they allow us into the building. It can be an exhausting process.
I fear that one of the repercussions of The Francis Report will be that, once again, stringent rules will be applied if there is deemed to be the tiniest of risks involved in any activity. We have already noticed a tightening of the rules following the allegations surrounding the behaviour of Jimmy Saville. Yet, to stop patients having highly supervised activities on the wards can do patients much greater harm than if they were to go ahead.
As I have said on so many occasions, life is all about managing risks. We all flourish if we feel valued. The massive benefit of community groups coming into hospitals is that patients feel, through them, a connection with the outside world. They also feel touched that those community-minded people gave up their time to come and make a difference to those members of their community in most need.