This is our first blog but we have written it in response to a narrative that has emerged of late – one that is close to home.
There are numerous methods cited by various Organisations and individuals promoting different processes and structured methods to offer formative support to an individual either following a traumatic event or in response to an accumulation of events that have had a negative impact on a person.
We won’t go into the different methods cited but will say this – any process is only as good as the people behind it.
And that is what is often forgotten.
There is an entrenchment in the process and the individual becomes lost in the system. This can be for a variety of reasons.
The process dictates A, B and C – any deviation from this means the process isn’t being followed and therefore hasn’t been successful
Implementing a process well after the event because that is THE process the Organisation has in place. It is viewed as a safety net and one that thereafter is seen to dispel liability
Formal recording of the ‘risk’ overriding the care provision – the fear of scrutiny and / or litigation in the event the worst happens means that the words aren’t being listened to; the need for self-preservation overrides everything else
The unknown – individuals have taken steps to seek support from other sources, notably line managers – and when they expose their souls, their raw emotions, they are met with panic. If there isn’t a resource to turn to or an answer on a page in Organisationally supported text, they don’t know what to do. So do nothing – or worse provide damaging and false assurances
Any process is only as good as the person behind it.
A world renowned surgeon wont be at peak performance in the operating room if they are exhausted; a Champion formula one driver wont win the next race if they aren’t familiar with the course even if in the best performance car; a London Taxi driver wont get you from A to B as quickly as possible if they haven’t completed the Knowledge.
It is the person behind the process, not the process itself, which assures the success or failure of any welfare support plan.
Support must be people focused – delivered with true empathy and compassion on the basis of zero expectation of reward. It is privilege to be the person that someone reaches out to in their darkest hour; to be trusted with their secrets; to be the hand that is reached for in the dark pit of despair. If that honour is not enough then nothing will be.
True welfare is self-effacing not self-promoting. It is a relationship; a meeting of minds; an intimate transaction. The ability to listen to hear rather than respond – being present; being in the room, putting everything else aside.
It’s not clock watching.
It’s not worrying about the next meeting.
It’s not wondering how the situation can benefit you as the supporter.
It’s a vocation – a voluntary relationship entered into in the knowledge your positive interaction may have saved a life – and no one else will know about. It can be an immeasurable and un-measurable success. It’s about the people in the room.
And those people matter. The person being supported and the person giving the support.
So in considering the point posed – process vs people – the people must come first. The process is an enabler, but the people are the enabled – and there are two people. Never forget that.
It may be an uncomfortable truth but it is a truth nonetheless. Being there to support an individual is hard – but more often than not the care advocate is supporting more than one individual.
This vicarious trauma can have an impact. Hearing similar failure after failure in the welfare culture leaves a mark – a level of frustration that is hard to explain.
You are left with the feeling of never having done enough but having been unable to do any more. Unable at times to reconcile personal action with the wordy bravado spouted by others.
One person battling an endemic system of injustice, moral ambiguity and lack of understanding – or wanting to understand.
The utter contempt shown towards welfare and compassion at a personal and professional level when oft there are simple solutions. The egregious cultural attitude of “leave if you don’t like it”, “you need to move on now”, “you aren’t suicidal if you are still talking to me” – all terms that we can empirically attest are very much alive within certain Organisations.
The blame culture – the individuals fault for lacking resilience; the supporters fault when the worst happens; everyone else’s fault except those who legally and morally should have taken responsibility.
Its not the process that decides whether someone lives or dies.