I would never have thought to submit an abstract for the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, Paris 2014.
But Helen Bevan, very kindly tweeted to suggest that I did!
Well, if that is not a fab bit of ‘encouragement’ in French or English, I don’t know what is…!
So I thought through what I might do. Sticking well within my comfort zone, I envisaged a session of about an hour (as we did in Malta) – people sitting around tables, relaxed, interactive. Well, OK we ran out of chairs and tables in Malta… but you get the idea…
But then, when an abstract is accepted (which is wonderful) it has always morphed into something completely different (a bit ‘Pythonesque’ IMHO)… but still expecting the same outcomes.
Did I really say I could deliver ALL that?
How to change the world in 30 minutes… by Gill. Hmm.
So I asked Helen. “You got me into this…” And sure enough, we met and I ran some ideas past her and I felt I had pretty much cracked it. Honestly, she can make anybody feel they can achieve anything…
But in my world, nothing is static and that is what is so exciting. New opportunities come along. Things happen…
One of my passions is to find ways of working with people, helping people to have a voice. And for care professionals to realise that people have a life, not just a set of health needs.
I was clearly ahead of my time. Which is kind of pleasing but also very depressing to feel that the same messages are as true today as they were five years ago.
As I attend different events, I consciously notice whether there is a holistic approach or whether people’s health and care needs inhabit different planets. Never to meet again until the Big Crunch… which I understand is now unlikely to happen anyway…
Anyway, I need to take you to the Amphitheatre Bleu, Level 2, Le Palais des Congrés des Paris.
My session in Paris is called ‘I4: Patient Stories’ which is a huge honour and a great responsibility. Ideally, I want to take all of ‘my gang’ with me in person – Kate, Alison, Chris, Anya, Claire, Clenton, Yvonne, Michael, Ken, Helga, Nina, Agnes, another Chris(!), Linda, Dom … the list goes on… you know who you are… But I can’t. So I need to find imaginative ways of bringing real people into the room with me. The Whose Shoes?® scenarios do this to some extent – real messages (often hard-hitting) written and recorded by real people about the things that matter to them.
With Ken Howard’s permission, I am going to start the workshop exploring issues around how someone receives a diagnosis of dementia and how this process can be improved – helping people develop coping strategies. Ken’s recent ‘in my shoes’ blog gives some wonderful examples of his coping strategies and we will soon follow this up with a second blog.
Kate Swaffer’s recent blog “Dementia=loneliness” inspired another part of the presentation. The key message again is that medics cannot ‘fix’ everything but by acknowledging how people feel, they can help them feel less isolated. Ken will tell us about hope and how key people have helped him realise that a diagnosis of dementia, particularly in the early stages, doesn’t have to be an immediate “mental death sentence”.
Back in January, a short video was made at the Skills for Health Whose Shoes?® workshop in Birmingham. Ken was the star of the session. So, even though Ken can’t be with me in Paris, I can show this film.
Ken and I are really enjoying working together. Building on the strong ties and friendships with Kate Swaffer and other wonderful people across the world, we have ambitious plans. Take a look at the Dementia Alliance International, led by people living with dementia and supported by people whom they choose to work with, and you will get the idea.
Kate and I, and others, designed an ambitious pledge for NHS Change Day. When I presented a Whose Shoes? workshop at NHS Expo in Manchester, Joe McCrea from the NHS Change Day team, invited Ken and me to talk about the pledge and specifically how Ken was in favour of peer support to reduce the feelings of hopelessness that can so easily be engendered.
The people in Paris will hear about our pledge, another opportunity to turn it from rhetoric to reality.
I blogged last week about the wonderful storytelling weekend in Cambridge. Ken made a film about his feelings at the time of diagnosis. In fact he made the same film with two different endings. There is a whole genre around ‘alternative movie endings.’ Sadly, I am still waiting to find time to finish my first film, but I really hope to soon.
So, my ideas have been taking shape. And of course, all of this has happened long after I submitted the abstract all those months ago.
It feels exciting that I am in regular contact with co-presenter Dr Tony DiGioia (USA) and Helen Maskell, our Columbian Chairperson, to plan our session. Hopefully we can make it seem like one interesting whole with two speakers rather than as disjointed as many people’s experience of the health and social care system.
Helen had shocked me when she said she thought at least 200 people would sign up for our session. At the last count it was 265 and rising. Sitting in rows. Hmm. How to make it ‘really interactive’ as I had claimed in the blurb…?
In February, I attended the Florence Nightingale conference and saw how Professor Susan Fairlie, amongst others, embedded films in her presentation. Now I can do this too!
It is not so easy to explain Whose Shoes?®. It is much better if people experience it. Talking about experiential learning misses the point somewhat ;-)
So I worked away on my presentation. I wanted to bring the voices of people living with dementia into the room in Paris. And I found a way to do it!
Helga Rohra, the Chair of the European Working Group of People Living with dementia, is wonderful. I met her and the rest of the group at the European Alzheimers conference in Malta. I am incredibly honoured that they GET Whose Shoes?® and support me in so many ways. I chat to Helga regularly on Facebook… but she is not on Twitter (yet!)
Social media is great for this. It can be like having a brain-storming session with the most creative minds! I wanted to include some of the cards from the electronic version of the Whose Shoes?® tool and managed to embed the audios.
Now I am imagining the voices of Helga Rohra, Kate Swaffer and Ken Howard booming out in the Amphitheatre Bleu. I am smiling :-)
With just under a week to go as I write this, things have become exciting in the build up to the event.
Helen Bevan is presenting to a massive audience – over 2000 people. I remember some of the tweets from last year’s conference and managed to find this one
Helen ran her presentation past the good and the great at NHS IQ last week.
This was particularly interesting for me as I had had the privilege of being with Helen last weekend when she made her two digital stories, the past and the future, to be used as key parts of her talk.
Meanwhile, my lovely daughter Jenny, a Clinical Trials Co-ordinator so potentially one of the audience, gave me the chance to have a ‘run through’ as well. The cat was appreciative too, sleeping soundly but not being rude enough to yawn.
I am lucky to have wonderful mentors. It was now time to run my ideas past my friend, Dr Sam Majumdar.
So, as I write this, there is a week to go.
I am waiting for an audio file from Germany, when Helga returns from her latest mission to spread her wonderful messages about living well with dementia.
I am waiting for a wmv. version of the film from our Health for Skills workshop.
I realise that this time next week I will be live at the Eurovision. Alison Cameron will be there in spirit supporting me (she loves the Eurovision). Hoping not to go down in history as the Norway of social care and health. Nul points.
Adrenalin is running high…
So I need to get ready. At the moment, I only have a badge. But it is a good one :)
Huge thanks to Dr Philip Pearson for the idea of putting #hellomynameis on our badges and really hoping to meet Dr Damian Roland at last too. I have a few other special people I am looking forward to seeing, including the lovely Carrie Marr. Carrie is over from Sydney and we are hoping to build on our meetings Down Under.
And, most importantly, coming back to #hellomyname is, thank you to inspirational Dr Kate Granger. Really hoping you will be well enough, dear Kate.
If all doctors were like Kate, all the #boatrockers could take a chill pill and go boating down the Seine next week instead of worrying about how to improve health care. And if that happened, we could even have a bit of added fun…
So, enough frivolity. Have we got a date?
Whose Shoes?® - Paris
And, over the weekend, I work some more on my presentation. I get some really helpful feedback from Sam. A ‘few ‘critical friend’ type comments, but most importantly a reminder that it will all be fine if I speak from the heart. And, as this is what drives what I do, I have nothing to worry about! :)
And then the last pieces of the jigsaw fall into place. Recordings from two inspirational ladies from across the globe. Helga and Kate.
Thank you! :)
And the inevitable technical problems…
And very interesting to hear that new NHS England Chief Executive. Simon Stevens is keen to ‘walk in patients’ shoes… I said I was ahead of my time ;-)
And this blog itself is a bit like a play within a play.
Helen Bevan tweeted a link to a very interesting piece about making major speeches.
Well, my talk in Paris is my version of “I have a dream.” Like the recent Patient Care event, I see it as a big opportunity to make a difference.
I would not be going to Paris at all if it were not for social media – well, only to play with a few #boatrockers on the Bateaux Mouches.
And the final message, as I believe should always be the case, comes from my inspirational friend, Kate Swaffer, living well with younger onset dementia. Kate says: