a person submerged in water with their right arm covering their eyes and the left hands touching their cheek

Seeing the Person in Front of You 

Stephen Noone Blog, News Leave a Comment

As a manager of a training and education service, it is easy to forget in the day to day that there are still lessons to be learnt. We may act with all the good intentions and good-heartedness toward another person. But at some point, we must ask ourselves: who are we trying to make feel good?

One of our trainers, an experienced healthcare professional, called to talk about some content they were writing for one of our courses.  

“Steve, I’m just letting you know I’m using the word “person” in all the content I’m writing,” she explained. “It’s so important in healthcare to take every opportunity to remind ourselves that there is a person involved at the centre of all we do. The use of words like “client,” “patient” and “NDIS participant” in written form and conversations can tend to push back on this. It moves the focus from the person and puts it on the service organisation and processes.”  

I never forgot the conversation. It helped me in my own personal life when a family member was diagnosed with a chronic disease.   

The disease impacted their life greatly, on all levels. With all thoughts focused on the best health outcome possible, I went on a mission to understand what was happening to them. Multiple medical specialists and sources were involved in caring for them. Sometimes, even competing versions of what would be best for them were attempted.

My life was focused on their support.  
Eighteen months into living with a family member with chronic disease, they came to me in distress. They were in tears, angry. 

“You would be a good father if you just listened to what I am saying. And don’t speak.” 

I stopped. At that moment, I really saw and heard my son 

I stopped thinking that I knew best. That I had all the answers. From that moment, I involved him in decisions about the management of his illness and what was important to him.  

Being seen and being heard is such a powerful human need. Particularly if you don’t have a voice because of circumstances outside of your control. And for many in positions of authority, to do this takes an almighty shift. To be able to really see and hear someone’s needs requires you to shift yourself. There is little room left for others when you are full of yourself. I know.   

Our trainer gave me a gift that day. Changing my focus from self-centred to person-centred, helped to avoid entrenching negative outcomes, like resentment and frustration. Now, my son and I enjoy respect and trust.   

All because of a change to a word in a training course.

What small changes have had a big impact in your life and practice? Let us know in the comments. 

Take this opportunity to refresh your knowledge of what it means to provide person-centred support. You are invited to enrol in our non-accredited certificate-level course, MEDESS009 Implement Person-Centred Support Planning, FREE until Monday, August 30. 

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