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  • Marika Kontellis

The Practice Room© Investing in our Front-line Practitioners.

I was reminded the other day that the work social, and health care practitioners do is not for the faint hearted.

After 30 years of working directly with people at their point of need, I sometimes forget the attitude I bring, and the skill of sharing knowledge is what makes the real difference.

I sometimes forget that no matter how much things change (and the health and community care sector is changing) things stay the same. What really matters is how I use my professional skills, experience and my knowledge to facilitate real choice in different contexts. It’s what I did 30 years ago as a young social worker, and it’s what I do today in my work with other practitioners in The Practice Room©.

Whilst Boards and senior managers are busy building (or in most cases re-arranging) systems and processes to maintain a successful and sustainable organisation, front-liners are the face, heart and head of the organisation. Front-liners are the people that work directly with customers (clients, patients, consumers) and they are the ones that customers know, trust, and can rely on.

I was reminded of this recently when a son of an ageing woman said to me “…you don’t know how much you have made a difference to us…” As usual I dismissed it with a thank you, glad we could help kind of attitude. He said “…you don’t believe that do you…you think I’m just saying it…?”

The truth of the matter was I thought he was just being polite. He then explained why he meant it. He and his wife had a lot of health care people come into his home over the past few months. His 84 year old mother had put herself to bed six weeks earlier and was not engaging with her family and eating very rarely. It was quite confronting seeing a woman lying in her own urine and faeces, not responding, but still being there. She had a history of depression since migrating from India several decades ago. Her depression was so severe, the family had to make some decisions. Working alongside a newly appointed care co-ordinator we saw the family twice and had one telephone conversation. That’s all. Three interactions. But we took the time to listen. We gave information when we were asked for it. We didn’t give our opinions. We were empathetic and the son said, quite simply, you just gave me the confidence to make the decision that I knew we had to make.

We throw our front-liners in to many situations. Sometimes they are unknown and in many cases high risk. What we do badly as a sector, is not invest time to resource, replenish or recognise these practitioners before sending them out in the field again. What we don’t recognise is the role experienced and skilled practitioners have in supporting other front-liners and informing customer choice. What we don’t always do is understand the changing context we are working in and valuing the relationship between practitioner and customer.

If you want to know more and be part of a change in the way Allied Health practitioners lead and develop, meet me in The Practice Room©

To find out more and book your place please follow this link http://www.zakumi.com.au/#!the-practice-room-2015/cytj


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