Humanising health and social care 

Conversation starter: Mike Richardson (City of York Council)

This discussion was borne out of the concern that patients and service users are treated as their presenting condition rather than as individuals with complex needs.  

Shoehorning patients/service users into services that do not properly fit their requirements is an inefficient way of dealing with people’s problems. It costs money and leads to individuals failing to receive the care they require. Could we flip it around so that we treat the human first, instead of the condition? Take a more holistic approach? 

Perhaps there isn’t a pre-existing service or piece of technology that can solve their issue, but then we can think constructively about a solution that really works, instead of simply passing the buck. 

Mike gave the example of an individual with multiple, layered issues such as a homeless person who may also be dealing with addiction and mental health problems. All these issues are interconnected. It is difficult to treat any one in isolation. Consequently, this individual is likely to end up trapped in a cycle where nobody is really helping them, so they never get any better. 

Another example was given of an elderly woman whose initial complaint is that she can’t get out of her chair. Our current model will identify a frailty issue, possibly send a carer round who will help her in and out. However, if we look at the desired outcome – the woman wants to get out of her chair to do what? Can we help her achieve that final aim? This will help more with her quality of life, retain her social connections, as well as keeping her more mobile.

If we treat people as individuals rather than conditions, we give ourselves permission to think more broadly about the solutions they may require. 

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