Choice – real or imagined
I have just read a really interesting blogpost by a GP I admire a great deal: Dr Martin Brunet. He tweets as @DocMartin68. I’m not sure who the other 67 Doc Martins are but I like this touch of humour and Martin’s ‘down to earth’ approach to many of the pithy issues that are facing the health profession and all of us as patients at the moment. I like the fact that he is looking at issues from the patient’s perspective, understanding what it is like to ‘walk in their shoes’. Faced with illness and perhaps trying to make important decisions when frankly they are often feeling … pretty crap. I particularly liked Martin’s recent blog about choice. It chimed with an experiential session I often run at the start of my Whose Shoes? workshops. I never put it on the programme – I just slip it in as we go – so please don’t tell people if you read this. It is called ‘Choice – Real or Imagined.’ I walk people through a little scenario where they are told they have choice; it is all very light-hearted. It is fascinating to see the situation unfold as participants slowly discover that choice is not as black and white as it might first appear. They find that people sitting at the next table (the next Local Authority? the neighbouring CCG?) have something they do not have or something of greater value; the mood gets ANGRY. Well, no, I exaggerate… but you get my drift. Martin’s post gives real insights into the current prevalence and predilection for targets and statistics and what this can mean for individuals. It caused a little flurry on Twitter, in particular when Mandy Hall, a GP’s wife, posted an excellent comment about being asked tick box questions at inappropriate times. A short while ago I was honoured when Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow, Social Care at the King’s Fund, gave the Whose Shoes? blog a very special mention on the Disruptive Social Care Podcast. My friend and colleague Stuart Arnott, co-creator of the podcast with Shirley Ayres, has very kindly extracted the clip. We all felt it made such an important point about the blog helping ‘policy’ people keep in touch with grass roots issues and how the decisions made in the ‘Westminster policy bubble’ affect real people. The Twitter debate calls for Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to read the tweets; I would respectfully suggest (in my best parliamentary language) that he can read them very easily here. My own comment on Dr Martin Brunet’s blog might explain why I get pretty passionate about issues such as this: “I will never forget when the visiting nurse, ‘Little Miss Side Effects’ came to my house and reeled off all the dire things that could happen to me as a result of chemotherapy. I was terrified. She then asked, in a very ‘smiley’ way, whether I was ‘happy’ with that. She clearly needed to complete the final box on her tick-list. Also, the time I was trying to explain to a social worker over the phone exactly how my Mum-in-law was; she was living with dementia – better days and worse days, perhaps depends on hydration etc… But the social worker was clearly getting frustrated. “But can she (i.e. implication it must be Yes or No) do the following….?” Some of these encounters have truly lost the plot. Comical in a ‘Computer says NO’ sketch type situation – but sadly real life here.” Courtesy of Gill Phillips of Whose Shoes?