Jul 17

What matters to me?

Posted: 13 July 2017

Andy_TAndy Tilden, our Director of Innovation – Skills, was diagnosed with throat cancer earlier this year and has now finished his Chemo and radiotherapy. Andy reflects on his experiences as he prepares for a phased return to work prior to receiving his final scan results in mid-September.

 At the beginning of my journey I asked myself the question ‘what matters to me?’

My answers to this question were that I wanted clear, uncomplicated and straight to the point conversations, kind compassionate care and a treatment plan that I understood and felt part of. 

I am very pleased to report that for the most part I have received all of these and I have been at the heart of outstanding personalised care. I believe it is no coincidence that the positive feedback I’ve been receiving from clinicians about my progress has been down to the fact that I’ve been actively encouraged and empowered to be a key partner in my recovery.  

For many in social care and health who are already delivering good and outstanding care my brief, amateur ‘participant observer’ observations will come as no surprise and not be seen as rocket science. For others who may stumble across any of my three blogs, my reflections as a patient may encourage some thinking.

There have been three areas where I have felt my care has been outstanding. In no particular order they are:

  • Communication

During all the stages from assessment to treatment and into recovery, communication with me has been clear, timely, straightforward and importantly two way. Written information, letters, meetings and conversations have enabled me as far as is possible to continue to feel in control. The rare occasions this has not happened (highlighted in my previous two blogs) only serve to emphasise the empowering, effective and efficient nature of clear communications.

  • Leadership

I have experienced inclusive leadership at all levels from my consultant coordinating my treatment, systems leadership from a wide range of clinicians and also extremely powerful leadership from receptionists and from a health care assistant. And to once again highlight the point that the rare ‘not my job’ and ‘nothing to do with us’ comments only serve to shine a light on all of those who take responsibility even though the issue may not actually be down to them.

  • Seeing me as a whole person and not just my cancer diagnosis

This area was the most pleasing surprise to me. Rather naively and given I was being treated by a specialist oncology team, I did think that the sole focus would have been on my cancer and not me as person. For the most part this was not the case as I constantly felt I was on the receipt of holistic care where I was seen as a whole person and not just a cancer diagnosis. This was emphasised by the information booklets, the meetings and responses to my long lists of questions about when I can walk my dog, when can I go fishing, when can I go back to the gym and yes when can I go back to work! Good and outstanding social care prides itself on delivering high quality person centred care and I was so pleased and grateful to have received that from those that have been supporting me.

So what next? This is my last ‘patient’ blog. I begin my phased return to work shortly and revert again to being a Director at Skills for Care. It is often said that good person centred care cannot take place unless services also value, support and care for their staff. I cannot end this blog without acknowledging the fantastic care and support I have received from colleagues within my organisation led by my CEO Sharon Allen. Now it is time to earn my pay.

Andy’s earlier blogs

Now it’s personal (28 March 2017)

Not the icing on the cake but the vital ingredient  (3 May 2017)

If Andy’s blogs have inspired you to think about how you might develop your skills and those of your staff in any of the areas highlighted have a look at the following resources: