Rules are for Breaking!
I am going to break a bit of a personal blogging rule here and tell you a bit about myself.
- Social Worker
- Have been an Approved MH Professional
- Working Mental Health Services
- Had an operation on my ear in November 2013
There you go, you pretty much know all there is to know about me! The reason I don’t like to do this too often is because I don’t want the Neighbourgood to be about me; I want it to be about care and support and about the people that provide it as well as benefit from it. It’s supposed to be a website where people can tell others about the care and support they provide so that people can benefit in some way. It is not supposed to be about me!
Please tell me Your Personal Details
So, the first person I saw today was a Health Care Assistant who, despite having all the information in front of him, that I had given to his colleague at a Pre-op Assessment Meeting the previous month he wanted to know all about me. And this one liked to play. All the usual stuff, name, age, date of birth, how much alcohol, how many cigarettes, what do you do, any allergies, previous operations, reactions to anaesthetic and then some. When he took my blood pressure which was good, he said, “Congratulations! Your prize is the free stockings.” I didn’t get it. Not until that is, I saw the surgical stockings I had to wear to prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis.
Next! I Just Need to Confirm Your Personal Details
Now, after seeing chap number one about three times over which series of meetings he asked similar if not exactly the same questions, I saw a doctor, then another Health Care Assistant and an Anaesthetist (x2) then another doctor , and another, followed by a whole bunch of anaesthetists and finally two different nurses post-operation.
Admittedly, the questions reduced over the day but many were asked persistently and on the whole, not wanting to get into an argument, I dutifully went through the answers, trying to make them sound as interesting as possible. At one point, I said, you guessed it, “I just told your colleague that!” Even as I spoke I knew that people had said almost word for word to me in my work and the lovely, otherwise friendly doctor snapped, “Yes, but I don’t know you!” You guessed again, I have used the same or very similar responses but hopefully, without the snap.
Personal details: impersonal processes
After six or seven times of telling people a pretty huge list of personal things about me and half of that time wearing a nightie that didn’t meet in the middle and opened at the back, it began to feel that people were not listening to me. I keep telling them, they all wrote it down and I had to tell them again. Now, I get the name and date of birth thing to make sure they have the right person. After all, I didn’t want to go along the operation assembly line and come out the other end with the wrong ear done or someone else’s kidney! It was a definite success on that score by the way. I would also have something to say if the professional came in to the same room as me and ignored me whilst reading my notes. But things might have rubbed along a little better if they had talked to each other.
Personalising Information Gathering
If you provide or receive care and support I bet you know what I am talking about. You may have asked the same questions again and again or been asked them. we understand they have to be asked and as I have already confessed, I have done the same. It is helpful to know about someone but it can also be really useful to hear first from the person you are talking to. Just reading notes can be unhelpful. For instance, people might write subjective comments or use pejorative words and expressions that might not resonate in my own thinking but equally, they might have recorded particular risks that could affect me. That might be about living with a hairy cat which can set me off, and a significant history of violence and use of weapons but be worth knowing too (No, no, not the cat!)
Sometimes, I have had to ask for information in a hurry because something has needed to change urgently. I have been very conscious that I have asked questions almost immediately after someone else. Asking questions is not just about getting to know about the person. For instance, I can usually guess close enough, if someone smokes, lives alone, is overweight or is of a certain age. I can sometimes spot particular signs and symptoms of illness but asking questions, can confirm or not what I think I know. What is most important for me is that I start to get to know the person. I might be able to find out what cheers a person up or captures their interest; what frightens them or stops them from enjoying things and what motivates them to behave in a certain way. Sometimes all this goes on in difficult challenging situations and at times a decent ice-breaker might seem like, “Can you tell me your date of birth please?” But after writing this I am wondering if any number of easy, chatty lines might be better.
How do you feel?
Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer that! If you do have any thoughts, observations or experiences of this, feel free to add a comment. It would be great to hear from you.