If you could change one thing what would it be?

How often have you been asked that? Probably as often as “If you won the lottery, what would you do?” or “If you had three wishes, what would they be?”

Even I, the eternal optimist, have realised that a lottery win is very unlikely and that the chances of a genie springing out of a magic lantern is zilch.

Resigning myself to these two facts, what I can do is acknowledge my ability to create change and hope that I use this ability to both my advantage and to the advantage of others.

Whether they have an impact on only me or on others, whether they are significant and transformational, whether they are so slight they are barely noticeable, whether they are made on impulse or the result of long and careful planning, whether they are the result of situations out with my control, each and every one will make a difference of varying degree. My hope is that whatever change I make, the consequences will be positive.

If I was given three wishes, perhaps always making a positive difference to others would be one of them.

I am in no way unique, each and every one of us has the ability to change and adapt and to make “that difference”.  

Those of us who have been involved in health and social care for some time (longer than I am prepared to admit!) are used to change. No matter what role we play, we are continually changing and adapting to the environment we work in and to those around us.

This week we are celebrating care homes and the people who live and work in them. On being asked to write a blog on “change and adaptation” I thought about these people and considered what to focus on. I could have written about changes in technology and equipment, changes in registration requirements, changes in dependency levels, changes in expectations, changes in legislation and employment law and so on, but I haven’t.

 Although these all undoubtedly necessitate adaptation and change, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the “change” moving to live in a care home has on a person and their families and on the skills and dedication of the care home staff involved in supporting them through that process. Having the ability to support a family well during this time of transition is absolutely crucial. Providing this support requires a chameleon like ability to change and adapt as well all know that no two people or their circumstances are alike.

Some family members may have an enormous feeling of guilt and think they have let their loved one down while others view their loved one going into a care home and an exciting and positive new adventure. Sadly, in my experience, the former is more likely.

Negative media coverage, often biased and ill-informed, do not help. Though incidents of poor care in unsatisfactory surroundings do exist they are fortunately very much in the minority. Sadly good news and celebrating good care does not always sell newspapers, so is not always what springs to the publics minds when they hear the words “care home”.

The dedication of those working in care homes must be highlighted. Their commitment to making changes which result in a positive outcomes of those they support, their ability to continually adapt their approach and use different skills to best meet the individual needs of those in their care, their ability to adapt and respond appropriately to highly sensitive and often emotionally charged situations, their quest to gain further knowledge and expertise and their relentless drive to make a positive difference must be acknowledged must be and celebrated.

If the words “care home” immediately conjured up the public’s visions of happy, stimulated, active, valued, involved older people living in bright, stimulating, safe environments then the prospect of a loved one going into care would be much less daunting.

I mentioned earlier us all having the ability to make change. One I, and my colleagues in the Partners for Integration and Improvement team within Scottish Care, can make and strive to make is to change the impressions the public has of our sector. By highlighting and sharing good practice and by supporting innovation, we hope we are making a difference. We feel we owe that to our colleagues working on the front line.

Going back to my three wishes, if I was granted these, one would be that the myths that Karen Hedge (National Director, Scottish Care) discussed in her blog earlier in the week, would be completely and utterly busted.

Let’s make that change.

Margaret McKeith

National Lead, Partners for Integration

@MargaretMcKeith

#carehomeweek