Sunday, 18 August 2013

Zombie Hoover Attacks Professor, Agile Working and Freud’s Couch


I'm looking forward to whizzing across to Leeds later today to see my twin grandson and granddaughter. Leeds City (population 757,700) is the 3rd largest city in the UK. The twins were born there just 12 weeks ago adding 2 to the population of urban Leeds (474,632). Their births also contributed to the continued rise in births in the UK that has occurred since 1972. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) hasn't yet published the birth-rate for 2013, but they have for 2011-12. They report that the UK population grew by 419,900 to 63.7m over this period. There were also 254,000 more births than deaths over the year.

People do appear to be living longer; there are 26% more men now aged over 75 in the UK than there were in 2001, the increase for women was only 6%, which appears to be down to male jobs becoming less physical and safer, men choosing to give up smoking and advances in treatments for circulatory illness. Personally I also think it has something to do with men not getting to use the hoover so often. Last week I had an  encounter with a hoover that can only be described as vicious and sustained. It was an attack of the Zombie Hoover. That I survived the encounter is, I think, down to a superb physique and finely honed reflexes.

I won’t mention the name of the hoover's manufacturer, but Jim boy has a lot to answer for in my book. It took me ages to work out how to get the thing to stop standing upright, to turn it on and getting the hose, and hose attachments out was difficult, but more so getting them back in. Billy my parrot shrieked with amusement and anxiety as I wrestled with various bits of equipment in trying to clean his cage. And in a  last minute attempt to win the battle, the container that holds the dirt and dust and so on leapt from the hoover's main body and landed on my bare toes – lightening reflexes couldn't save me, I simply was not agile enough to escape injury.

And agility was in the NHS news last week. It appears that across the land, agile working practices are being adopted to make our doctors and nurses more efficient in the way they work and improve the quality of patient care. For the uninformed, agile working is different from flexible working, something most NHS HR Departments have dreamt up in an attempt to emulate a Tescoesque approach to employment. In other contexts, agile working approaches explore how to maximise individual performance and productivity by changing the overall working practices. Staff are given more choices as to where and when they undertake their roles, whether this be at a central location, a community site, at home, or hot-desking.

This approach does rely upon technological support that allows access to information and support programmes anywhere. In a NHS context this might relate to providing access to clinical / patient data on smart phones, tablets and so on, anywhere and at any time. There are some obvious problems with this approach around confidentiality and data security, but these are probably surmountable. More importantly, will be the task of resolving the people issues as the work / home divide risks becoming even more blurred.

Freud may have the answer. I got word last week that his iconic couch is finally to receive some TLC in the form of a 2 week restoration project. The work will be carried out at number 20 Maresfield Gardens, Freud’s home in London during the last years of his life. The conservation work will start in  early September, and will be undertaken by one Poppy Singer. She will do the work in public (well Freud's old dinning room) and anyone can go and watch. Once complete the couch will be fully restored to its original fine condition. It will be once again a place to contemplate, and we all need a place to sit down and ponder the world, and perhaps, we all need to think about becoming less agile!