Today I heard an interview with an internationally renowned choreographer who at one point talked about observing open heart surgery for research purposes and he mentioned that the surgeon was operating to music, "Bach in fact". That reminded me of a cholecystectomy (key hole surgery) I was privileged to observe when studying a CPD course 'Interprofessional Learning' together with health staff at a University in the south of England, in 2006. The focused atmosphere I am only a little hesitant to call sacred increasingly left me in awe. The young surgeon disappeared quickly down the corridor after the op was completed. It seemed he needed to be alone. This only reinforced the impression.
A bit late switching on BBC Radio 4's Any Questions last night, I was more than interested to hear (Jeremy Browne saying): "When will we realise the NHS failing is not about the money but the structures that need changing." From experinece I am inclined not to disagree. However, much better put I found what may be referred to here, by a GP (born and bred in the UK, practising in England and himself involved in the new local Commissioning Group: "In this country (unlike others) the role of health managers is - to block (rather than to facilitate) proceses." Ouch.
Among the memories from my graduate course studying social work is the seminar where we discussed the need to support specially clients who had been disadvantaged earlier in life in order to meet their Human Rights. 30 years later, I found myself in a situation where I had to defend myself against a Psych. Consultant when I felt that his statement had to be disclosed as a safeguarding matter (concerning a mental health patient), He had said: "I have known the family for 20 years and that (sexual abuse of the person by her father) has long been a suspicion. At one point (she) threw herself down a flight of stairs. This was seen by some as due to the father kissing her more in a boyfriend-girlfriend kind of manner. The allegation was put to him but denied. And Social Services did not take it any further." He threatened me with a management response if I did disclose this. It followed 3 days later. Fast forward 5 years, and this June a Judge said he "preferred the evidence given by the Defendant (the NHS Trust, in my claim for damages after the management response).
Some readers may wonder how my background as a theologian goes with my passion for person-centred social work.
I started working as a social worker in my early fifties, with adults with long-term needs and mental health issues. And I don't think I had come to love the work so passionately, had it not been for the background insights in the potential for clients to help themselves.
I started studying theology independently after a powerful liberating spiritual experience during a feminist psychodrama workshop. It was liberating, and gave me a lifelong inner imperative to understand it and respond to it ever deeper.
Because of its context, I felt drawn to study philosophy of religion.During those studies, among other inspiring minds, I came across Bernard Lonergan, a 20th century philosopher and Jesuit,
who like his contemporary Karl Rahner, made it his life's work to return religious concepts into existential categories - terms
that describe what we all deal with during life and do so more effectively if we understand what it is we are doing.
So Lonergan developed what he named 'transcendental precepts:
Be Attentive, Be Intelligent, Be Reasonable, Be Responsible.
From workshops and conferences I attended with the Hearing Voices Network since 2009, I learned how people who hear voices
can begin to recover when they attend to their experiences and take them serious but not literally. Or, as Dr. Eleaonor Longden put it:
"It should be asked what happened to you, not: what's wrong with you?" And there is already the element of being intelligent,
that is aiming to understand. And when unpleasant symptoms persist, another voice hearer comes in (contributor to Intervoice fb page; I
can't remember his name - if you read this: Thak you!), saying "I learned as long as I don't add my imagination, I am alright."
And that is then also being responsible - for one's own wellbeing.
Of course, we need also to talk about social circumstances that harmed us, that caused the original trauma and, in many cases, added to
by so-called psychiatric care, in the case of mental health patients.
I find, I never come to the end of attending, understanding, reasoning and responding responsibly.
- Not normally watching TV, this week I am with a client who does, so within 24 hrs I hear about plans to cut the NHS..., T.May's plans to commission a study about racial and social injustice and - a TV-ad for a private insurance for cancer sufferers.. Now, how do these three items make sense together? - someone said, the NHS crisis has been engineered in order to justify privatisation. I am not sure whether this kind of conspiracy theory isn't a bit like magical thinking. Is it not more likely that Jeremy Hunt and Co. believe they are doing the right thing ...without asking fro whom.
And then there is Theresa May - conservative politician with a genuine heart - or wolf in a social justice costume? And the private advertiser certainly shows a good sense of timing..
Encouragingly, I also find: yet another change.org campaign to get one or other cancer patient the drugs they need. This may be where power for the people now shows tender shoots: in such campaigning - democratically conspiring for social change? I hope so.
pleased to say that my planned conference contribution to the interdisciplinary conference on Testimony in Oxford in Sept is now online. You find my abstract under authors M-Z, and the session where I'll speak is Wed Sept 21 11.00. thorganisers invite people to attend the whole conference - to allow for exchange and mutual learning:
In my paper I talk about the experience and learning of a whistle-blower (in the NHS in England)..
Recently found this article in Community Care and breathed a sigh of relief - this is how I recognise my profession, this is what it's about: Dealing deeply with complex issues in people's lives - read against their human rights!
As I am hoping to raise my profile for work as an Independent Advocate, I would be interested to hear from those service users who have had experience of such a service (e.g. IMCA, IMHA) and what it was like. Did you benefit, what worked, what would you like to have been different?
My specialism seems to be the combination of deep person-centred work such as the Hearing Voices Network offer and a professional profile, that is recognised by authorities.
Apart from Locum work, I am also available as advocate, expert witness and independent assessor for patients and carers and I can offer short-focussed therapy facilitating self-management. My fees are graded, depending on level of need and affordability - starting from free for emergency action.
I look forward to hearing from all interested to discuss how I can help. This service is also offered to Solicitors for their clients.
Recently, a Judge in a Court Heairng around a Whistleblowing matter, complimented me on my professional skill and conscience, using those words among others. However, after 5 years of related work, I am looking forwrd to returning to the coalface of working with social work clients. I love the variety the situation as a Locum offers me - and I get to see different parts of the country. Never boring!