Day 8: Expand a comment
Thank you for this wonderful story. I feel we are connected as we share the same values about being engaged in the people we meet.
My comment in the quote above comes from a post from a fellow blogger “Healing Through Connection” which is hard to forget and brings many lessons with it.
Catherine is a medical doctor in a hospital in Chicago and I am a retired Health visitor in Denmark. What do we have in common?
Catherine highly values to find the right understanding for her patients, and in the case of her blog post, in her students renting her flat. The flat was her home where her first-born were born and everything is full of memories. The Chinese student called “Lucifer” had managed to spoil the flat completely in the two years he lived there and for clearing up the huge mess Catherine got a wonderful help from an “Angel” and they both encouraged the new tenant who was in distress over the situation.
Catherine chose to let it become a huge lesson and took the responsibility on herself. The main thing is to know the tenant and keep in touch and to tell the tenant that the flat has a history and is a valuable part of her life.
Looking back at my years as a health visitor I remember many difficult situations that has to do with communication between me and the parents I was in touch with.
If something went wrong I would nearly by a reflex think that it must be my fault. The mother or parents could suddenly become very upset or angry with me for things I did not always know about. They could show me a closed-door or not wanting to answer the phone. It is not compulsory to receive help from a Health Visitor so this could happen, very rarely though.
It took me many years to sort it out as these actions had many causes.
It could be my fault :
- Being overworked and late
- Not being encouraging enough if a mother had given up on breastfeeding before I even arrived
- If I mentioned more than once that smoking had very bad consequences for their children
- Forgetting an appointment
It could be the mother or father who :
- was mentally ill
- or had a personal disorder as borderline or similar
- Who neglected the child and I had to mention how it ought to be treated
When I realised that I had missed something in the communication I would call and try to deliver an excuse or at least do my best to be understanding and listening next time.
Having to do with mentally ill people is very difficult because in their own home they don’t wear a label with “I am a borderline person.” You have to find out yourself by listening to their story and see how they treat their children. I still feel very affected when I think about it, because I have seen children who have not been very lucky with their mom or dad. As a professional it’s difficult to stand alone in the relation to these parents. To motivate for help via a social worker is urgent and if the situation is grave for the children I would have to report the neglect for the authorities. The family would be mad at me, but I had to let it be like that and let others take over.
Sometimes I was more lucky when mentally ill parents had a diagnose and I was told about it from the start. Then I could ask the parents how they experienced the illness or handicap and I could support them and get other professionals to help too.
The main thing is to help the family to understand and take care of their child and to keep a certain barrier around yourself so that you are not too vulnerable. It’s something I have had to work on all the years and somehow I have still not finished working on that. I want to have a high standard of integrity in my new and old relations and to grow in this area keeping my own boundaries as well.