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  • Writer's pictureKit Wisdom

Collective Care Conversations: are we asking ourselves the questions that really matter?

Updated: Jul 18, 2021

What does 'collective care' mean to our healthcare industry? How are we defining the 'collective'? How do we define 'care'?

Such questions can be easily evaded as we strive to maintain our presence of expertise online, yet is that in itself, part of the calamity of modern healthcare?

I have been humbled again this week. By such an insightful perspective on the healthcare system and its role in patient care; in its impact on that patient seeking care.

She went into the healthcare system as a patient with a fractured C-spine, yet also as a provider of social care for others. A patient and a health professional. One would think a precious commodity in terms of perspective.

The themes we unearthed centred around how she felt invisible, disempowered, and confused. She felt care was directive yet hands-off. Paternal yet unsupportive. Oppressive yet lacking accountability. She reflected on conversations that were so one-sided, she did not even get a chance to ask the questions that were central to her survival.

The patient I listened to, that I learned from, spoke to the lack of relating within the relationship we call 'healthcare'. She explained the need for a system to involve her, guide her, listen to her needs, to help foster her sense of agency. Not treat her like a box that just needed to be ticked. That was discarded to fend for itself once ticking had taken place.

When I asked her what sort of relationship she needed with me, a healthcare professional, she replied "I need shared responsibility. I need structure, yes, yet I also need help with creating my own boundaries. Boundaries that reflect my need for a slow, humble, and connected interaction with my path forward."

Are we thinking wide enough? Are we thinking out of our lanes? Are we thinking in a way that takes into account the perspectives of the humans we are trying to help? Are we thinking as a collective that invites the whole?

Are we truly reflecting on the openings that covid has catalyzed?

Not in how covid has changed our way to work, earn money, deliver our goods, be heard, be the expert, 'fix people', but in how we are choosing to have conversations.

Or are we still continuing to feed the paternal scientific platform as the way of knowing? Are we inquiring from 'those in the know' that are already established as 'knowing'? Are we only having conversations with ourselves in our own health professional bubble?

Are we excluding through our definition of collective?

We are all currently experiencing a trauma that will leave an imprint on us as a collective in more ways than one. Our profession, despite its attempts to create 'business as kinda sorta usual' in this somewhat ambiguous online space, feels like it is using this trauma as yet another way to accelerate our expert opinions, our expert care, our need to be in control, our need to dominate the conversation.

Historically, we have always been experts, us health professionals. And yet, amongst this worldwide crisis, no two people have been impacted in the same way, despite everyone being part of the universal covid story.

No one person's story is better or worse than the next. They are just that. Unique stories that stand side by side, each hearing the other, each acknowledging the other, each creating space for 'other' to exist; each respected in their ability to colour the existence of multiple truths.

That in itself speaks to 'collective'.
We. Us. All of us. Together. Side by side. Health professionals. People seeking care. Story-tellers. Story-listeners. Sharing. Learning. Open.

Maybe our healthcare collective needs to create the presence of a supportive, whole-making collaborative that actualizes potential. Actually sees all its members as valid, as resourceful, as essential.

So we can care in a way that appreciates and empowers those who require the caring.

If we return to our current hierarchy of power, our expert-based stance on higher ground, how can we then possibly determine our patient's problem in its entirety, how can we possibly 'tell' them what's wrong, how can we possibly 'know'? How is it that we can continually look to further elevate ourselves above everyone else?

We need to start having different conversations. To start asking different questions.

Conversations and questions that include the collective. That are about the collective. That highlights the importance of the collective. That respects the collective.

Conversations that humbly inquire, that deeply listen. That wants to listen, understanding the power of story. That look to all the people for lived knowledge themes on how best to care, how best to show up, how best to be.

We need guidance to step down off our podium. We need help to step into caring. We need the collective in its wholeness, its humanness, its imperfect fallibility if we are to evolve as a profession.

Because it feels like we aren’t asking ourselves the questions that truly include the collective, in order to create change that is so desperately required.

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