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If not you, then who?

February 22, 2011

Having watched the excellent “Dispatches” programme last night, in which journalist  Mark Sparrow investigated the poor quality of hospital food, I was horrified to witness an even bigger disgrace – which never seems to get a mention. Sure…we all know that the food could be better – indeed SHOULD be better (after all, proper nutrition is required for the body to heal)…and we all know that without adequate cleanliness and hygiene, nasty bugs multiply and attack patients’ weakened immune systems. (Heck…Florence Nightingale taught us that!)

But what really got me was the “learned helplessness” that seems to accompany all the complaints. YES…things should be better. BUT if you’re not happy with the level of care a patient is getting, DO SOMETHING about it. I can’t imagine watching a relative die simply because they weren’t being fed. Wouldn’t YOU help feed an ailing relative? One woman who was interviewed on the programme complained that her mother needed a spoon but the nurses wouldn’t give her one “because they only came with the pudding”. Wouldn’t YOU GO FIND A SPOON? And if for some reason you couldn’t, wouldn’t you go buy one…or even go home and get one? Or if you really couldn’t face all that palaver, wouldn’t you simply bring one in with you on your next visit?

It’s the “learned helplessness” and the belief that “someone ELSE should sort it” that’s keeping us all stuck…and actually, it’s the same attitude that’s been playing out in our economy for years that’s got us in the trouble we’re currently facing.

As Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you…Ask what you can do for your country.” A bit more of that attitude – which demands personal accountability – will serve us all well. And as Charles Dickens pointed out, “Charity begins at home…” so…maybe it’s time for some “fusion thinking” in which we start to recognise that we must take at least some responsibility for DOING WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE for those we care about, irrespective of whether or not “it’s somebody else’s job”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2011 8:40 am

    Yes, yes, yes! I didn’t see the programme but I absolutely confirm that part of your role in life is to CARE for your family, and loved ones. My daughter is currently in intensive care after complications with her bone narrow transplant, but I have been with her for 8 hours every day, along with her husband, since October. And we have bathed her, helped with her needs for water and fluids, fed her, comforted her, and continue to do so.

    There is a limit to how much nursing staff can do and yet there is no limit to what one person can do. We cannot afford to sit helplessly watching things go wrong – we have to do what is necessary to get it right, which sometimes means challenging the accepted procedures.

    So glad you brought this up Olivia!

  2. February 23, 2011 6:56 pm

    Yes! This is so true. Some people seem to live in a blame culture where everything is somebody else’s fault! Take responsibility for your own thoughts and actions.

    Having said this, taking personal responsibility doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help or help other people. Take personal responsibility for your own life and consider hand picking a small team of people to work with you. You can hold each other accountable for your own successes and you each get to practice being the best you can be. Olivia – that’s a blog topic for you to write another day!

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