On “turning things round”
Before Florence Nightingale, “nurses” enjoyed a deservedly dodgy reputation. Dickens, always plugged into the popular culture of his time, knew what he was doing when he created the ghastly Mrs Gamp and her dreadful friend.
Caring is a role that brings with it a very dark side. It is dangerously easy to take advantage of the weak and the sick. It is so simple to blackmail or terrorise them into silence and acquiescence.
The vulnerable quickly learn that, to get even half decent treatment, you have to be “good”. And good is always defined by the care provider as giving your “carer” an easy time.
It was bad enough in the past, with gin-sodden, slovenly Mrs Gamp, but now we seem to have created something even worse: a whole monstrous system which is based on not giving the care provider a hard time.
Whether it be the Hospital Trust or the Local Authority or the judgemental Social Work Department, we little people are blocked from attempting to criticise or question. As patients, clients or employees, we are expected to be “good”: to be quiet and compliant; to accept without complaint every idiocy of chaotic administration; every petty cruelty of poor organisation; the endless esteem-sapping disrespect and indignity.
Because otherwise we know we’ll suffer, in body, pocket, mind or spirit, or any combination of the above.
Now Florence Nightingale was a ferociously determined and successful change agent, but she also had a good few things on her side. She was well connected, with privileged access to people of power and wealth. She had a highly successful market image, a sympathetic press and popular support. She was not a little person.
How are we little people going to fight our newly created monster?
I’ve seen institutions change, but it’s a big ask, as they say nowadays
1. You find a leader with determination, endurance and integrity.
2. You get a board/cabinet/party/pressure group to back her/him.
3. You get rid of the bad staff by (a) making them work (b) dragging them through disciplinary procedures, tribunals etc.
4. You promote and reward the good staff, so that the balance of power & influence in the workforce changes, with good practice becoming the norm.
A big ask indeed! We’re going to need a monster fighting change agent, to battle alongside us little people.
Any good politicians out there any more?
Anyone with principles and a bit of backbone?