I have always loved writing stories and making connections. When I was about six or seven, I used to nag people to give me a set of random words and then enjoyed weaving them all together in one story.
I had forgotten all about this until Mum reminded me when I saw her at the weekend and was telling her about my talk at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference (#Confed2015) last week in Liverpool and some thoughts I have about taking it forward. Once again it is all about bringing different people and threads together and making a coherent whole.
I had a great time at the conference and in Liverpool generally. I put together a visual story on Steller which has been fun: Gill’s alternative take on #Confed2015.
I was honoured to be asked to be a speaker as part of the “Improving urgent care for older people: sharing the learning” session chaired by Dr Mark Newbold, who is chairing the Commission on Improving Urgent Care for Older People. The Commission aims to “put forward patient-centred, evidence based solutions that will be widely supported and practically applied in local health and care settings.”
I was pleased to be invited as I had enjoyed taking part on the Guardian panel recently on a related topic, the highlights of which were published yesterday.
Mark talked about the challenges, including sharing this great new animation film which explains the situation well.
Next up was Sharn Elton, Director of Operations NHS East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, sharing good practice as one of the ‘Five Year, Forward Vision’ Vanguard sites. It was good to hear how services can be more integrated with a bit of multi-disciplinary imagination.
Then it was over to me to give a Whose Shoes?
multi perspective type take on things.
To be honest, it was not the easiest audience. Many of them looked happy tapping into their laptops about systems and processes but singularly uncomfortable to be confronted by The Idea That There Are Real People Involved (a.k.a. patients). People who have lives to lead and who might not want to be seen as ‘just’ a medical condition or a set of services.
I started with a poem to test the water.
I thought I might need the life-belt after all. At least one person liked it…
I was buoyed (excuse the pun) by the lovely messages I had received from my Twitter pals who ‘get’ what I am trying to achieve.
Anyway, I’ll tell you a bit more about the actual session at the end but I think the connections and possibilities that are growing from it are exciting.
So here are the different threads going through my mind that I am hoping to link:
- Dr Mark Newbold is chairing this commission and seems to like my Whose Shoes? way of linking people and bringing real (often very challenging) voices into policy development.
- My mum is 93, fiercely independent but with mobility problems and now living in Assisted Living accommodation, where she has friends with a similar range of medical conditions but who want to enjoy life and stay out of hospital ! They will be keen to have their say!
- Mum writes her own blog, including this powerful ‘Sunk without trace’ blog she wrote especially for this conference and which has had loads of ‘hits’ and some nice comments. Mum has ‘no idea’ why her writing strikes such a chord with so many people.
- I am part of a very strong network of people who are either ‘patients’, carers, or ex-carers, many caring for elderly parents, often living with dementia. These are special people who have not only dealt with their personal challenges but done something about it; now recognised as national speakers and innovators.
- Coincidentally, when I first developed the electronic version of Whose Shoes?, I did it in collaboration with older people including residents of Extra Care Charitable Trust.
It was part of an SBRI competition around nutrition and mobility, which is central to keeping people out of hospital! I therefore have Whose Shoes? scenarios, co-produced with older people, to start conversations around these topics.
I am hoping that, as a group of critical friends, including some life-hungry 90 year olds, we can help Mark and the rest of the Commission make progress.
Mark Newbold (@drmarknewbold) June 04, 2015
So, what did I talk about?
This gives you a flavour. A ‘wee taste’ as my Mum would say.
I had crowd-sourced and talked about the things that people thought were important.
When Mum moved into Assisted Living last year, a friend of mine who is an O.T. did an assessment and we bought all the equipment and arranged the support Mum needed. The wait for a social care assessment was six months. If we had waited six months, I would guarantee that Mum would have had a fall and ended up in A&E. The assessment took about 45 minutes. Where is the joined-up thinking?
I talked about my Dad who had, in total, eight heart attacks and little things that really helped him (and us, as a family).
I talked about one of my personal bug-bears “Continuing (NOT) Health Care“. A bit like a red rag to a bull really.
I graffiti-ed up an image from the animated film.
And I talked, of course, about the Healthy Living Club in Lambeth.
Regular readers will know how much I love them – they cut through all the ‘stuff’ and just have fun WITH people living with dementia. I pointed out that this is ‘community’ at its best – if someone is missing one week, people will enquire and make sure they are OK.
Having fun prevents social isolation; the exercises keep people mobile; the music enables them to join in and smile. And yet they never have any MONEY!!
I behaved myself and refrained from asking how much it was costing for some of the apparent ‘non-swimmers’ to attend the conference.
But I did suggest that commissioners might be a bit more imaginative in terms of seeking out highly cost-effective, imaginative ‘interventions’ and ‘therapies’ to support (well you have to talk the right language!).
Food for thought.
There have been some great blogs on the subject of ‘integration’ since the Confederation conference by some of my favourite commentators…
It is hard to know what really ‘influences’ people but it seems there was at least a passing moment…
“We need to get over ourselves”. Well said, Andrea Sutcliffe.