I supported a relative with a visit to their local hospital.
We got great service from a couple of people prepared to do the right thing.
I could write a book on how the system could be improved, but that is not the purpose of this article.
So, despite filling in lots of pointless pieces of paper, being asked basic questions over and over again each time we met the next person in the chain the service we received was on the whole good.
We also experienced people willing to break the system to get things done for us. An example of this was a senior nurse phoning a friend in the physiotherapy team to check if they had time to see us whilst we were on site. This would save another trip to the hospital for my ageing relative.
A favour was pulled and ten minutes later we were on our way to see the Occupational Therapist.
The only problem for the OT was that because we did not have an appointment there was no space to hold the consultation. However, the OT was not put off by this and tried also sorts of options to find a space.
A few minutes later the problem was solved! She had convinced her manager to vacate her office to allow us the consultation.
We were not sat in clinical surroundings, but the space was fit for purpose from our point of view. The consultation commenced and we were both delighted with the information, and conversation that ensued. As we talked about the various pieces of equipment that might help my relative with rehabilitation a smile came over the OTs face.
Why? well she was delighted that because we were sat in the managers office she could walk straight in to the equipment store that adjoined the office. The benefit of this to both the OT and my relative was that the equipment could be demonstrated and discussed relative to need.
As a result both parties gained a clear view of what would help, and what would fit the home setting. In conversation she remarked how much easier it was to have access to all the various pieces of equipment in practice.
Ironically, because she had done us a favour by squeezing us in without an appointment, and booted her boss out of her office we got to sit in the right place, and received a great service.
If only the everyday workflow had been designed to offer the kind of service that we happened across then everyone would benefit. This rarely happens because very few organisations design their operations around customer demand.
Hierarchy, rules and procedures force a different kind of thinking.
So, whilst a few of my OT friends would tell me that a hospital based assessment is inferior to a home assessment, the fact that we got to play with the equipment in a managed way certainly helped my relative to understand more about what was available, and how it worked. This could not have been achieved in the usual standard consultation in a clinical setting.
The fact that we were in a more informal setting also allowed us to talk to one another as human beings, and not purely as professional/patient. As a result we learned that this really helpful and patient centred person was soon to leave the NHS because she was sick of the bureaucracy and wanted to be able to more helpful to patients. A great shame, because in my view this individual is just the sort of character an organisation needs.
In my experience most organisations are designed back to front. Designed to align with the hierarchy of bureaucracy rather than to face to customer and concentrate organisational effort on achieving great outcomes for people rather than boards of directors, politicians, or stakeholders.
Successful leaders in the future will be curious enough to want to understand how this might work in practice.
We need a different kind of leadership behaviour. Leaders need to change their habits.
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