Feb 17

A Matter of Time

Posted: 22 February 2017

sharon and bill

One of the best parts of my job is the opportunity to visit services around the country.  This gives me rich insight into the leadership and workforce issues colleagues are grappling with.  Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Eden Valley and Jigsaw hospices in Cumbria, at the invitation of Bill Mumford, Chief Executive and Skills for Care Fellow.

Social care is all about supporting people who need it to have the best life they can and, when the time is right, to have a good death.  A good death, in the place of your choosing wherever possible is core to Skills for Care’s End of Life resources.  It’s worth noting that hospices tend to be the service model that overall achieves the most consistently high ratings from the regulator and are also held in high esteem by local communities.  What are hospices able to provide that others can learn from?  How can we emulate the best of what a hospice can achieve to support continuous quality improvement across social care?

Having spent a very informative day with Bill and his colleagues in the hospice – meeting a range of colleagues, including the two palliative care social workers, HR manager, lead nurse, and joining the senior management team meeting – here are my reflections.

One of the words that was used most consistently during my visit was time, that colleagues working in this hospice value the fact that they have time to spend with the people they care for.  The local GP who spends one day a week working at the hospice compared this to her experience in her practice which is one that has elected to offer people 15 minute appointments rather than the more usual 10 minutes.  Even so, she appreciates that in the hospice she can spend quality time with people who are dealing with life limiting conditions and facing the end of their life.

This also compares very favourably with what we know happens in provision of home care when too many times workers are forced to focus on task and time rather than spending quality time with people with complex needs and who are often lonely and isolated.

Time is important because the giving of time makes us all feel valued.  'S/he didn’t give me the time of day' is a saying that indicates someone does not value us – time is a gift, it is precious and we need to ensure that our dedicated workforce is able to provide this invaluable gift to everyone we engage with.

Time is squeezed when resources are constrained and, of course, I asked Bill about the level of resource the hospice can secure compared to other care and health services – Bill will no doubt reference this in his response to this blog that we will post later this week.

The other two words I came away reflecting on were humanity and love.  We don’t talk enough about love in social care, in fact, we often shy away from it, anxious about crossing professional boundaries.  It is right that we are clear about the nature of relationships between people, some of whom may need protecting, and the colleagues who are paid to provide care and support.  We shouldn’t, however, allow our anxiety to drive humanity and love out of our practice.

Thank you Bill and all your colleagues for a truly affirming visit and for helping me focus on time, humanity and love.