Day 69: The importance of listening #107days

Day 69 was adopted by Lois. She got in touch because she felt that some work she had been involved with around communication was relevant to #JusticeforLB and the way that people with learning disabilities experience the health service. This is what she had to say:

It is completely unfair that after decades of trying to improve services for people with learning disability , closing the long stay hospitals , bring in person centred approaches, we are left in 2014 with the huge inequalities in health and life opportunities for people with learning disability and life’s like Connor Sparrowhawk are cut short in an unnecessary and untimely manner .

How many more tragic deaths are we going to see before residential services for people with learning disability are going to change? We need to see at the heart of that service culture an ability to really listen and put the views of the patient at the heart of planning and see the families as key partners. Sometimes I think people see listening as a ‘soft issue’. Other things get measured but does the quality of listening ever get measured? It should because in my view it is a critical patient safety issue.

Over the last few years I have had the privileged of working with a diverse group of people with a range of communication support needs. They have developed an interactive workbook for NHS Education Scotland. They share their experiences of contact with services to help staff understand how to improve communication and listening skills.


The group deciding on the key visions

They created 10 vision statements for staff of the things that were key to them. They told powerful personal stories to illustrate those statements. The stories illustrate both good and bad practice. You can download the free resource here.

Listening to people what strikes me time and time again is the lottery of service delivery. There are some great stories where people have received quality treatment and interaction but that is not universal for there are stories where you are left questioning the compassion and humanity of staff in so called ‘caring’ roles. The question for all of us is how we shift the culture so that we can all experience a person centred and listening health service. I hope the energy and impetus of #107 campaign ignites the flame of change so that ‘all dudes’ gets a safe and quality service.

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