Sunday, 4 March 2012

A Post Card from the Coast, Some Compassion, Meeting Urpu and Cello’s new Cat

At the time it felt like a very hectic week last week. However, as I write this I am sitting in bed looking out at the sea, and yes it really is 07.00 am. I'm on holiday, staying in an ultra modern cottage (complete with free Wi-Fi – take note Marriet) in Kippford on Scotland’s Solway Coast. The cottage was once a blot on the landscape (owner’s words!) but not anymore. The exterior was remodeled and inside, the cottage has been transformed into a fantastic white walled, clean, bright space, with a large number of picture windows allowing the sunshine in, and which beautifully frame the views of the sea, hills and the weather.

Whilst coming to such a place for a holiday in March might not be everyone’s cup of tea, it allows me to unwind, relax and re-energize. I love being able to walk on the empty beaches, through woods and hills where often no one else is seen. It’s also lovely to just sit and watch the world slowly drift by.

The local pub (The Anchor) provides good food, real beer and roaring log fires. Even at this time of the year one is guaranteed a warm welcome, laughter and a relaxing evening. Just a short walk down the hill from the cottage, it’s possible to leave the car parked up and have a couple of pints every night – of course making sure that you stay within the recommended weekly sensible drinking limits. Who says Nurses don’t know how to do health promotion?!

And what nurses can or can’t do, or rather how they might do things was on politicians mind this week with discussion on how to provide care with compassion being top of the agenda. The latest idea is to make all applicants thinking of joining nursing or one of the other health professions undertake a psychometric test to judge their ability to demonstrate compassion. My understanding is that the Department of Health has already commissioned a company to develop such a test.

Whilst of course being compassionate is a good thing, it’s a highly contentious idea that there is somehow an inherent predisposition to compassion that might be revealed through a psychometric test. Most pre-qualifying professional programmes last 3 years, and I find it inconceivable that during this time individuals will not be able to learn how to provide care with compassion. Our School has for the last 2 years run a Care and Compassion Conference and we will do so again this year. These are well attended and show case just how colleagues, services users and carer’s experience compassion and care.

And that’s what I also experienced yesterday at the WhiteHouse Gallery in Kirkcudbright. I had been invited to this year’s Gallery opening following the winter shutdown. Music, Chocolate & Bubbles were promised and delivered, and there was a surprise in store as well. I had just purchased another piece of art by my favorite artist and sculptor Urpu Sellar, when there she was in the flesh. Rosie the gallery owner introduced us and I had a fascinating conversation with Urpu. Apart from Urpus art being quirky and unusual, she often draws on ideas arising from hearing the way we use words in our everyday conversations and some of the pieces I have collected over the years are brilliant three dimensional sculptural forms based upon such inspiration.

Customer care played a part in my recent thinking and decision making over changing my car. I have purchased Toyotas for a long time now and have always been happy with them. A couple of weeks ago I was invited and attended what was billed as a VIP weekend, where it was champagne, hot dogs and special deals on new cars that was on offer this time. Unlike my experience at the Whitehouse Gallery, these inducements did not result in a purchase being made. I simply wasn’t sure they really cared one way or the other about meeting my needs, just getting a sale.

So for the first time in 15 years I went elsewhere. And now the old Dr T Toyota Avensis Tourer has gone and the new Dr T XJ has arrived. Cello, who also sees the beaches, woods and hills as one big private play ground, didn’t seem to care about travelling to Scotland in the new car, despite it being named after a big cat. He just curled up and went to sleep for a couple of hours, apparently completely content with his changed surroundings. A bit like me at 05.00 am this morning!