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Too often people experience health and social care as fragmented, rushed, unkind and un-listening; pushed from pillar to post, having to tell your story over and over, and left feeling stranded or abandoned.

“If your only tool is a hammer then every problem looks like a nail.” It is often said that in the world of surgery the hardest decision is knowing when the wisest course of action is not to operate.

At medical school I studied anatomy, pathology, therapeutics and evidence based medicine, and as a junior doctor I became highly skilled in diabetes, kidney disease and intensive care. In my career as a GP, this knowledge and these skills have occasionally served my patients reasonably well, but did not prepare me for the reality of being part of the daily difficulties that people face as they go about their lives.

In a society where technology and science has grown and spirituality has been side-lined, primary health care has become the first point of contact not just for every ill, but for distress, for dissatisfaction, for loneliness, for disconnection. It is a home for the happy times, births, milestones, life events, and a magnet for all the uncertainty, disaffection, messiness and sadness that are a part of being a normal human.

Like every GP, I have learned to improvise, to rummage around in the “bag” for the right “medicine”; and sometimes all that I have to offer is kindness. It can come, I hope, as a listening ear, a warm smile, an exchange of recognition, or just holding a hand. Kindness is also having the honesty to say when I don’t have anything in the bag, and being able to guide the patient towards someone or something that may help them find what they are seeking. Sometimes it is kind and right to walk alongside for a while as they make their way towards the somewhere else, sometimes best to close a door.

“Here” is a point of contact. When I come “Here” I will be heard, and I will access knowledge, skills and kindness. The people I meet will not be afraid to be open with me, and will not be bound by constraints that block my path to wellbeing.

Care Unbound knows that hammers are incredibly useful, that there are lots of nails poking out here, there and everywhere. It also knows that not every problem is a nail; there are screws, dents, and rough edges too. It liberates us to think outside of our silos, it gives us the courage to know our own limitations, and equips us with a network of relationships that allow us to join care together.

Image by Flickr user Salim Fadhley via a CC licence

tagged in Enabling Team, purpose, wholeness

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