Post birthday musings

I’ve found myself stuck in a stuck place and wondering what that is all about. I decided to move jobs two years ago because I wanted to use my knowledge and skills to make a real difference to patient care. I had become disillusioned and disenchanted by what was happening in Higher Education and felt that I would go back to practice and “give it a try”. I had been an advocate and committed exponent of practice development and after 15 years + talking about it I wanted to see how I could implement the approach in the real world.

I decided to go and see if I could lead and manage health care and improve the experiences of service users using a structured, person-centred approach. After a few months in my new role I realised that it wasn’t going to be as straight forward as I had been led to believe– I had been deceived into thinking that there were barriers to improvement that could be lifted by merely changing the person managing the staff. What I had not realised was that the real obstruction came from above and that relationships were so difficult that I soon became the new target as the resentment and antipathy were transferred from an existing “enemy” to a new one who was easier to pick off and much more vulnerable.

I often wondered why people forgot how they had known me in the first place and how quickly they turned on me and demonised me and became hateful and distanced. I am stating here for the first time that this has been a horribly traumatic experience and I am still not sure how to pick the pieces up from a shattered vision of making a real difference to an important area of care. I recently gave away a number of books and articles on the subject and as I was putting them in the bag I realised just how much preparation had gone into me leaving the university. I had not left on a whim nor had I done it without a great deal of research and soul searching. None of that investigation and preparedness was ever acknowledged and much of my “cleverness” was disparaged and ridiculed – that’s not nice and I remember saying that I felt like I was back at school being teased for wanting to learn and do things properly.

It remains tricky to know how much to share about my experience as I want to protect folk and also not expose myself to further criticisms BUT I also want to enable folk to know what happened and make sure that we talk about these things. It is high time we were more open about distress and unhappiness at work – it is occurring too frequently and it is time we found out what was going on and why it is happening to too many good people, too often.

I am applying for a supervision course as I believe I would have been better remaining a “critical companion” (1) to the staff rather than crossing the threshold and becoming their manager. In retrospect, that external investment would have had far more leverage than my internal senior position. It is ironic but the wisdom of hindsight is a good thing sometimes as it has helped me recognise what I am good at and where I can wisely expend some energy in future career developments.

I am hoping the alliances and ideas fostered during the conversations on the course will be the very best way of “paying back” the people who were so nasty to me this time last year. I don’t seek revenge – I seek gratitude for what they have taught me about myself and other.


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