Amongst the fascinating, moving, brilliant stories of health care workers in Ireland, that I have come across in the last days, in the context of our ambitious Viral Change ™ programme in the Mid West of the country, stories of people doing extra-ordinary things, one I remember most was about an elderly man in bad psychological shape who was incredibly restless. He just wanted to see his cattle after so many days in absence. And he went on and on, progressively agitated.
Taking patients to see their cattle don’t figure in any nurse’s job description, including rural Ireland. Doing extra-ordinary kind things is not an official requirement to be a nurse anywhere.
But that nurse took him to see his cattle, on her day off. And the patient was grateful, and calmer, and doing very well.
There are hundreds and hundreds of these extra-ordinary acts of kindness that remain fairly invisible or just known locally, that we are uncovering. These small, unexpected, un-planned, un-budgeted, un-trained, un-written in job descriptions, acts of kindness, shape the culture every day. Because of the fragile side of our humanity being at the centre of a health care system, this part of our society is a permanent laboratory of care, compassion, trust and learning, to use the four values of the Irish Health System.
Nurse Catriona McCarthy taking Mr Flynn to see his cattle on Catriona’s day off, did not make the headlines of the tabloids. It will never make those headlines. There is no interest here.
And when something like this sees the light, it is often in the form of an anecdote, an heroic one, a statistically anomaly that deserves airtime. But these things, as I have learnt, are far from a statistically anomaly. They are very frequent, yet they remain largely invisible.
The Values on Action movement in the Health care system in the Mid West of Ireland, powered by Viral Change™, is uncovering hundreds of them in the shaping of a behavioural fabric that will sustain a better health service. And I am extremely proud of being associated with this movement.
But I am particularly grateful to Mr Flynn for insisting in seeing his cattle. That led me to learnt about Catriona. And, you know what, Catriona? You took to see my cattle too. And I will sleep a bit better today, reconciled a bit more with our human condition.