All in it together

9 October 2020

I am, rather apologetically, someone who spends too much time on Twitter. However, I’ve been fascinated recently by the public discourse on the access problems people have had during the COVID-19 pandemic, with tropes about general practice being closed and questions asked around what actually have we been doing?

Practicing during the pandemic

Of course, we and our patients in need know just what we have been up to. Our efforts of trying to safely squeeze the quart of demand into the pint pot of capacity without spilling a drop have been heroic. 

At the heart of the problem, is that whenever demand exceeds capacity, it is inevitable a degree of utilitarianism (the greater good for the greatest number) creeps in. Personalisation and compassion can become casualties and criticism piles in. Fighting to protect these virtues is a battle that we and our patients share a common interest in, but sometimes, in the media at least, it feels we are portrayed as being at odds with each other rather than being allies on the same side. 

But Twitter can also be heart-warming. There have been some soul-lifting tweets describing the fantastic collaborative support people have experienced with their GP and practice teams through these difficult times. It is these moments, when we and our patients feel we are working side by side, problem solving together, that bring us both the greatest satisfaction in healthcare.

Scotland's House of Care programme

Unapologetically, I can’t spend enough time on my role as Clinical Lead for Scotland’s House of Care programme. The programme is all about ensuring that the care and support we plan with people living with long term conditions is a similarly collaborative experience. QOF often felt hard work, trying to explain to blank-looking faces what might be best for them to manage their conditions and achieving our targets. It sometimes felt we were at odds. 

Care and support planning focusses on preparing people for their encounter with their GP or nurse, which enables them, and us, to get a lot more from these interactions. It can be a joyous process where people have 'light-bulb' moments in living with their condition and the professionals having illuminating insights into the person.

Care and support planning within the House of Care model is an international exemplar of enhancing good medical care for people living with long term conditions. It is at the heart of RCGP’s approach to long term condition management and now an MRCGP curriculum competence, hence why I have a strong desire to recommend. With the sudden pandemic of COVID-19 crashing into the slow-developing pandemic of non-communicable diseases, supporting people’s self-management is a real priority.

Join the upcoming webinar to learn more about House of Care

To find out more, please join me with Lindsay Oliver, National Director of Year of Care Partnerships next Wednesday, for an evening webinar. You can register now. In the meantime, let us and our patients keep sharing understanding of each other, problem solving together and cherishing those moments.

Post written by

Dr Graham Kramer, RCGP Scotland's Executive Officer for Patients and Public

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