Thursday, 26 April 2018

A good story, told well, can help others to listen and learn

One of the skills I admire in others is their ability to tell a good story. I don’t mean that the story has to be a happy or funny story, stories can also be poignant, sad and difficult to hear. A story told well can be inspiring and motivating, and as in the case of reading to my grandchildren, an exciting way to for them to explore the world. Equally, I love listening to their stories, tales that reflect their growing awareness of the world, and also that creative imagination young children have. 

As a nurse I have listened to many patient stories and stories from their families and friends. I taught my students the importance of listening to what was being said and also to what wasn’t being said. Both can be equally powerful. As a nurse researcher I have listened to stories of abuse, of mental health problems and the challenges of everyday life and the negative impact these can have on a person’s health and wellbeing. 

Stories can be told in many ways. Verbally, through pictures and films and of course through writing. I write stores myself, in the form of a weekly blog. This is something I have done for many years now, and the blogs are often constructed around stories of my own experience or reflections on life. I don’t think I’m a particularly good story teller, so I am always surprised when people, (other than my Mum and Dad) read them the blogs and take time to respond.

So whilst stories can be amusing or sad and a part of our everyday communication, stories can be powerful too. I sit as a Non Executive Director on the Board of an Acute NHS Trust. As someone with a nursing background I consider it a great privilege, and an opportunity I cherish. Every Trust Board start off with a patient or carers story being told. Over the last 2 years these stories have been communicated using videos. There are stories from patients who have enjoyed great experiences of care, and others where the experience has not been so good. However, there are always lessons to be learnt, not just by those sitting at the Boardroom table, but are stories shared across the wider Trust community. The videos have become a brilliant learning tool. They help people reflect on what they have heard, help people challenge and bring about change. 

At yesterday’s Board meeting we heard the story of someone profoundly deaf and her experience of care. It hadn’t always been good. She had decided to do something about it and had met with the Chief Executive and Director of Nursing to express her views and share the story of her experience. The video told the story of what she had gained in response; why it was important to have high quality interpreter services available for the deaf community; and how she was going to help the Trust better meet the needs of this community. 

It was a good story with what I think will be a great ending. If it feels right, why not share your story, and maybe even write a blog for #ExpOfCare