Letting people with a disability surf the internet, making a life-defining diagnosis, your daughter dating for the first time: situations where a lot can go wrong … A society that quickly asks who is to blame when mistakes are being made. It is a breeding ground for fear that results in people deciding to restrict the liberty of others for instance by banning people with a disability from the internet, by excommunicating their patient and not involving them in the treatment. These are examples of social structures that are built on fear. Structures with little capacity. Capacity that is needed when we want people to stand on their own two feet and when it involves the future of one’s life. The capacity that we need if we want to continue to provide the care that is required.
You could try warning your client endlessly for bad experiences on the Internet, try protecting your daughter from an unpleasant experience during her first date or constantly point to the risk of misdiagnosis but warnings become only manifest when things go wrong in reality. Can we solve this by prohibition? No, precisely at the point when things go wrong , it is important to be there so someone can fundamentally learn and next time be prepared. There’ll always be risks, it’s about how you deal with them. That is why keeping the dialogue going is so important to emphasize the opportunities and to learn how to deal with the situation rather than to radically eliminate the dangers.
New paradigm of learning
Learning these skills should be part of the curriculum of medical or health care education. To realize this a new paradigm of learning is required where the emphasis lies on truly communicating with clients instead of on protocols. A paradigm that forms a solid foundation for future health care professionals that harness the potential of their clients. A paradigm that forms a solid foundation for future healthcare managers that harness the creativity of their personnel.
If there is one thing you as a healthcare professional are responsible for it’s creating opportunities for your client (again). For example, by learning someone how to deal with something! Especially in a society where knowledge is no longer reserved for the few, learn ability and coping with changes are the main skills of nowadays. By addressing these skills within healthcare people feel they’re taken more seriously and become more self reliant.
You’re not the only one
So don’t keep your client away from the internet but embrace it! Harness the opportunities and teach him or her to deal with it. Do not be the almighty wise guy but harness the engagement of you client by letting him participate as a full member of the treatment team. Prohibition is a sign of inability to deal with the situation. Challenge yourself and face your fears and worries by putting them on the table. And to repeat the main message of TEDx Maastricht 2011: you’re not the only one that cares, the patient is too! So take him or her seriously in doing so by working together.
A blog by Wouter Wolters
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