Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Seeking release

Just caught a really interesting and inspiring chat on Mid Week on Radio 4. They were interviewing members of the cast from a touring cultural olympiad show - In water I am weightless. . . . It is about taking away the burden of disability and embracing what you can do! They had a very inspiring attitude and I think it will bring hope to others. The title of the show is a wonderful phrase and reminds me of the film I recently watched called Inside I'm dancing. They are both about release from disability and it's confinements.

One phrase used in the radio article struck a cord with me; "I was fine being in a wheelchair but having others watch and look at you in a chair is very different." I think that really highlights the stages of recovery and expectancy. Being public about disabilities is quite a step. I sought comfort from that, realising that it is not just me who feels at ease with my condition until I face people! It can be very disconcerting and feel like you have taken a few steps backwards when you.are faced with these public situations, but really it is just part of the change curve and lifelong process of acceptance.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The need for holistic approach to HEALTH

Today, BBC Health published two stories, which illustrate the need for health to be considered holistically - not just the symptoms of a patient in the context of an hospital ward or clinic.

  1. Loneliness is a major health issue
  2. Medical Officer urges healthy homes
These two stories taken in isolation make a strong case in themselves, but together, they show the diversity of factors that can influence our health, and consequently the enormity of the public health challenge, the need for people to take some responsibility for their situations, and the idea of patients as people with lives lived around people in buildings. 

Its the simple little things that really add up, that don't have to, with equally simple interventions! 

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Community Reporters

I have just been on a three-day training course by Peoples Voice Media on Community Reporters.
As a concept, community reporting is quite simple, but the more I leant about it, the better and more exciting the concept became.
In the context of healthcare, empowering patients by giving them a voice is very valuable. In contrast to other 'voice gathering' tools, community reporting seems to have the capability to create true stories in a format that is digestible, and really empowers patients and those reporting.
The applications in healthcare are numerous, and particularly with young people who are often hard to engage - at the age when most people take good health for guaranteed and so may not traditionally engage! But the use of technology should make it attractive for young people to become involved. At the same time, however, the technology is not prohibitive to other generations, and being interviewed by a community reporter doesn't require any grasp of technology.

Check out Peoples Voice Media for more information, and watch this space for some community reporter videos and podcasts . . .

Art vs. Science of Medicine

Having started my health-based career at Cambridge studying medicine, I was originally a firm believer in the science of medicine. The argument of science vs. art in medicine is ancient and will continue for as long as humans do I think, but the issues around the debate are very topical when considering the redesign of NHS services.
For me the science of medicine is the amazing technology, scanners, drugs, and devices that have revolutionised patient experience. The 'art' is the softer stuff - the empathy, the consultation techniques, the well-being and consideration of emotions, provision of information and the facilitation of shared decision making between patient and healthcare professional.
I really feel that this debate has been shifted from the pure hypothetical and philosophical to completely practical and relevant. The very nature of the NHS in the coming years has to be very different to how it has been so far. The technology is amazing, and will make an enormous difference in saving lives that would have been impossible to save only a number of years ago. But the real challenge the NHS is facing is not the acute life-threatening conditions, but the long-term conditions that are not dramatic, but represent a significant loss of quality of life. The numbers affected by these LTCs are gigantic, and will continue to rise. New MRI scanners, new devices and drugs will only go so far  in managing these new demographic of patients. It is the process of empowering these LTC patients and getting them in the right emotional and mental state to take responsibility to self-manage their conditions which is going to be the saving grace of the NHS. There are no diagnostic devices, drugs or data that can inspire that emotional mind-set - the art of medicine, supported by science, needs to become prominent, to give the NHS the sustainability it so desperately needs.