Mark Doughty reflects on his OD breakout session

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26 / 3 / 2015 5.08pm

My breakout session focused on how OD professionals could support service users, patients and health and social care professionals to build new partnerships for change. This is something I have a very personal interest in.

As a patient and service user with long term conditions, I have a very close relationship with my local health and social care system! I visit my local hospital, GP practice and/or community service at least twice a month. I have personally experienced the difference a collaborative partnership between myself and a health care professional can have on my quality of care and my wellbeing. For me that difference is rooted in the power of a dialogic (rather than a diagnostic) approach – an approach that amongst many things emphasises finding shared meaning, before exploring potential solutions together. This is not a relationship based on the medical practitioner having the power and with the best of intentions trying to ‘fix’ me or offer me solutions to my perceived problems because it fits with their way of way of viewing my world. Rather it’s a relationship grounded in mutual respect and a shared understanding of our needs and concerns. It involves a commitment from both of us to inquire together into how I can continue to learn to live well with my condition and how the medical practitioner can best support me on that journey.

During the breakout session I wanted to offer participants the opportunity to experience the very dialogic approach that I know has worked for me when engaging as a patient with some of the healthcare professionals who support my care. I felt it would be a powerful experience for both myself and the participants involved in the breakout session. I was also keen to do this through the lens of my role as patient and service user. In my experience this is a powerful process to engage in. When I am present as the patient and service user a different dynamic is set up between myself and healthcare professionals, whether they are clinical, managerial or OD practitioners! It is a dynamic that challenges both parties to reflect on how they are making sense of and turning up in the relationship. It can trigger all kinds of thinking (beliefs, assumptions, pre-judgements) along with a range of emotions that if explored can potentially reveal new ways of working together and new solutions to old problems.

Looking back on the day I was amazed as to how my experiences varied depending on whether I was ‘showing up’ as a patient/service user or as an OD practitioner. Do I have any regrets? Only one - I would have loved to have had the time to challenge myself to build in opportunities in the breakout session to explore what we were all experiencing together as we engaged in more collaborative and generative conversations through the lens of our different roles. But then again as an OD practitioner (and patient!) one of my major challenges has always been to focus more on being present in the moment and working with what emerges rather than being drawn to holding the ‘expert’ position dispensing pearls of wisdom and insight based on my particular model of the world as it shows up for me. For me, challenging myself and offering my thinking up for analysis and constructive criticism by others is part of what the dialogic process is all about. Next time I will embrace this challenge, take the risk and see what happens!

Mark Doughty, Centre for Patient Leadership     

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