May has seen the last of the Claps for Carers. The outpouring of praise for NHS teams has been huge, with lots of stories of compassionate care. There have been many tales of the difference individual staff and whole teams have made by their determination to do everything they could for their patients and their patients’ families. Those going through delirium as a result of Covid-19 have often had the benefit of dementia-appropriate care from everyone in the team and this has surely made their journey less traumatic.
The thing is, I wasn’t at all surprised; I know so many teams and so many individuals within those teams who will offer nothing but the best for their patients, no matter what the personal cost. They do, of course, receive cards and messages of thanks, even though they don’t look for them; each one means a lot – but they always want to live up to their own high standards anyway.
What has surprised me about the abundant praise in the last few weeks was that so many of the general public were taken aback by the dedication of healthcare staff; they really didn’t expect it and didn’t seem to realise this is what those teams always do. If you looked on social media in more normal times, you’d spot all sorts of stories about things going wrong – the individual or sub-team when something’s not gone well – but you don’t see anything like that amount of publicity about the excellent care so many people receive. Of course, when something goes wrong in a loved one’s care, it’s extremely upsetting and can have terrible consequences, but the majority of the time many, many teams are giving their all and people are moved by their dedication – yet the media and social media can give a very different impression.
Whilst blips in care must certainly be addressed, I’d love this new realisation – that healthcare teams do wonderful things every day – to carry forward into a more balanced appreciation of excellent healthcare, not least dementia care. If you alert an excellent team to a blip, they will address it themselves; if you publicise it first on social media, you delay positive action being taken to address the issue and you dispirit the vast majority of staff who pride themselves in delivering excellence.
Whilst out Thursday evenings may no longer include communal clapping, I hope the appreciation of wonderful healthcare teams will retain the prominence it deserves.