Over the past few months, our blog style postings on the Health Arrows website have been dormant. We have been very busy responding to the great interest in seeing our film Falling Through the Cracks: Greg’s Story and the associated discussions we have been able to have with the audiences afterwards.
We are very appreciative for the interest and the positive feedback that it has garnered. The word has spread and the requests to see the film, and to utilize the University of Calgary’s associated developed curriculum have continued to increase and expand across the province, the nation and indeed internationally.
We have learned, not surprisingly, that many of the cracks in the health system exist everywhere. Cracks that come from a culture of hierarchy, of silos of specialities or areas of focus, and a culture of patients and their families accepting too quietly, all that goes on when they need to enter the treatment system.
We have also seen pockets of groups of people who are recognizing these risky behaviours and are developing true and effective teamwork models that are proving to provide superior health care outcomes working with patients and their families. Some of these have gone so far as to change the dialogue away from using the word “patients” feeling that this term tends to reinforce the wrong status for someone that must be a partner in their care.
These groups are found in different locations and in different kinds of systems. All are passionate about their work together, and we believe enjoy their accomplishments together. This reduces the frustration levels they normally would feel individually in the traditional segmented and top-down managed systems. Burn out we hear, is a growing and critical problem that drives too many very good people out, leaving more to be done by the people left behind them. We also think that the frustration and stress tends to have a strong effect on those with the greater level of sensitivity and empathy for the people that need them the most. This challenges the system further with their departure however the real tragedy is the impact personally on these people that have invested their time, energy and passion in helping to care for others.
The politics inside the “system” and the politics that exists over our system must change for all concerned. While some smaller groups are doing outstanding work as teams at their levels, it is far more difficult than it should be, and indeed we have seen that sometimes, if they stand out too much, the politics of “get back in line, you are showing us up” kicks in. The best way, and really the only lasting way of changing this negative and frustrating environment, is for the public’s political priority to be known to change. To change away from allowing and even encouraging politicians and governments to spend our money on quick fixes (which almost always make the underlying shortcomings worse) or on huge and expensive facilities in voter dense locations. The healthy public needs to get informed and engaged in making better choices. Better choices to support improved care, and better choices for our tax dollars. The continual use of our money to buy our votes, to the detriment of the health and well being of patients and providers, is at stake. We all must work together to change this.