In the depths of our current health care disaster, the million-dollar question is how do we change the system?
The answer? Unless you are the Minister of Health, you don’t. You can only change yourself.
First, we have to describe the health care world we want to see. For me, that's one that’s based in love, not power.
I've given up on expecting the executives and officials to do the right thing. They won't change unless forced to change and who will force them? They are accountable to nobody. Raging about the need for system change has gotten me nowhere. BUT.
What I talk about in my new book Ducks in a Row: Health Care Reimagined is the ole Serenity Prayer. What is in our control? What is not? Clearly, after 20 years of trying, changing the system is not in my control.
But it is in an individual's control to do things like: Help someone lost in the hall. Give out a warm blanket. Start a book club. Look at your waiting room and take down all the crappy signs. Install a fridge with snacks. Pipe in peaceful music.
What heals people? Contemplate what heals and then DO THOSE THINGS. If there is something you can't do, influence someone who can.
Start-up reflective practice sessions to care for staff. Welcome feedback from all without becoming defensive or angry. Go out to the people and don't expect them to come to you. Lean on the arts, including stories from patients, families, and staff.
The humanities will bring humanity back into health care.
Do what you can do, but start now. Don't wait for the system to change. System change is a lie that has been sold to us. Believe me, I've been on every committee/council known to (wo)man. It hasn't helped. The work is not in the boardroom. It is in the staff room, the waiting room, and around your kitchen table.
The small things are the big things. The small things are the only thing in our control. But if I do one small thing, and you do one small thing... those things will build and build. Forget the people in the corporate offices. They can join you if they want, but I'm sick of trying to sell them that health care is about caring, not bonuses, plus offices and efficiencies.
Put away your business suit. It is time to start dancing on the hill. Patients and families are already there, waiting for you. Come join us.
Become part of the groundswell.
You can buy a paperback copy of my Ducks in a Row: Health Care Reimagined here. It is a book of encouragement for those who reject the status quo and who pine for change in health care. Packed with ideas, and importantly, practical ways to overcome barriers to change.