Ive been thinking a lot about change recently, so much is being written on the matter and there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by where change isn’t being discussed in some way, shape or form. Some call it innovation, others just plain improvement, but whatever we call it, change isn’t always greeted with acceptance.
I love my job and feel privileged to be able to to help support moms and babies but like everyone I do get frustrated at not being able to push things further and create more change that would improve care for those that need it most. We often have the ideas and a genuine desire to make care and services better. However it often happens that the frustration feel to mitigate change can leaving us feeling worn down and burnt out.
There are many reasons why achieving change can be difficult, without a doubt one of the biggest is culture. To explain what I mean I am going to talk about the challenge that is supporting women in birth.
Ive been supporting women in pregnancy and after birth now for 10 years. There is nothing like the feeling of going into a home or a hospital room where a woman is struggling and know that you can help. More often than not I leave with a woman feeling happier and all feels right in the world. However, that is a small part of the puzzle because it is society culture, that has had, and is still having, the biggest affect on pregnancy and birth. Women have birthed their babies for millennials, and for a long time it was the culture to do so without medical intervention. Over time with the improvement in medical advances, research and information plus the desire to keep mothers and babies, safe the culture has changed. It is no longer the culture to birth at home or without intervention but rather birth is often very medicalised and a positive birth only something that is achieved with a great deal of struggling and fight. What impact has this had? Women struggle to have good birth experiences and in many cases instead find their births are traumatic. We have lost the ability to listen to women, to support them to do what is the biological normal when it comes to birth. Many women voice they are often not supported in their choices and instead many feel reliant on medical support in a system that is flawed and struggling.
So how do we change this?
Well its hard work and a battle that is still waging but what really needs to change is the culture. To do this you have to challenge the status quo, change peoples thinking, gain trust, build confidence, educate and empower people to change things for themselves. Yes for themselves. No one should be made to birth a certain way, it has to be an informed choice, but we can help women to know that it is what their bodies are designed to do, it is possible for them and it should be encouraged and yes supported! We empower by sharing knowledge, embracing personal experiences, questioning pre-disposed ideas and by encouraging growth and development. Also by learning from each other!
Of course though this will only happen if we change the culture in our maternity services too. This means co-producing services with families, listening to what they need and also their stories of when things go right and when they don’t. It also means accepting when we make mistakes and working hard to put things right. It means staff coming together to build a strong, supportive culture built on mutual respect. It also means building a team around a women and her family with her at the centre and seeing that a healthy baby isn’t all that matters.
So how does this relate to change in other areas or services? Well again look at culture. As I said many are frustrated at not being able to facilitate change. So may feel the only way is to try a new role believing that they will take with them to the new role, all their ideas and desires to change a service and they will be the ‘one’ that achieves change in a big way. However what we may forget is the culture that surrounds us, that we are breathing in, will often assimilate us, just as it did the person before us. That same culture can choke our ideas, suppress our desire and burden us until we conform and follow the line as have others before us.
So do we give up? Is all lost and hopeless?
Of course not, but what we all must remember is to facilitate change we must all no matter who we are fight to change the culture. It is a battle, a fight, as ideas become intrenched, many may feel that something has always been done a certain way and that is how it should stay. Others may feel time is against them and just doing their everyday endless list of tasks is enough, ‘no time to change’. Some become scared, afraid of what change may bring or mean to them. Some, myself included, feel so small in the big scheme of things that nothing they can do will facilitate change for the power lies with others. So we ‘fight to hold on and fight to let go’.
We must not give up!
If we keep people in mind, if they are our true motive for change, we can facilitate change.
If we strive to always give the best of ourselves and improve our care, we can facilitate change.
If we are open to new ideas, willing to listen and try new things, we can facilitate change.
If we can find just 10 minutes a day to learn something new, listen to an others story or be creative, we can facilitate change.
If we can be brave and courageous and challenge things that we know are wrong and inaccurate, we can facilitate change.
If we can empower others and ourselves, and change ways of thinking, we can facilitate change.
Yes it is a fight and a struggle and at times we may feel like we are swimming against the waves in a big vast ocean but never give up! Believe you can do it!
Then like a a thousand tiny pebbles that are thrown in to a single pond we will all join together and create waves that not only affect the culture we work and breath in but we will discover we can create great change that can benefit us all.