Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hear me. Do you know me?

It isn't often that I can report that I was honored to see a play, but such was the case recently when I was invited to view the showing of a short four-person drama at West Gippsland Hospital in Warragul and especially because I was permitted to attend the staff discussion that followed the performance.  Here's the background:

The Australian Institute for Patient and Family Centred Care was established a few years ago by Catherine Crock and colleagues to promote just what its name implies.  As noted:

We aim to to transform people’s experience of healthcare through a three-fold approach:
  1. Develop partnerships between patients, their families and health professionals
  2. Create a culture that is both supportive and effective
  3. Improve healthcare environments through high-quality integrated art, architecture and design.
One medium used by the AIPFCC is to commission short plays on key themes in health care delivery and present them, upon invitation, to hospitals throughout the country.  The hospital plays a small fee for the show, and the balance of the cost is covered by donations to the Institute.  The plays have now been seen in dozens of health care institutions by thousands of people.

Two plays are offered, Hear me and "Do you know me? The first deals with medical error, disclosure, apology, and communication.  The second deals with care of the aging population.

We viewed the latter play in Warragul.  It was organized and supported by CEO Dan Weeks. The audience of doctors, nurses, and trainees were deeply affected by the performance and the themes raised.  Afterwards, Dr. Crock facilitated a discussion, and the honesty and vulnerability displayed in the comments was truly extraordinary.

The actors had permitted people to reach into their experiences--whether with their own family members or with patients--and share observations that will help bring a better sense of clinical teamwork in the hospital and empathy with patients and families.

I was particularly pleased to see that medical students and more advanced trainees were permitted time away from their ward-based clinical activities and were invited to attend.  They, too, were active participants in the discussion and clearly benefitted from the experience.

Meanwhile, the actors stayed and listened, no doubt enhancing their own ability to offer even more engaging performances in the future.

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