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AttentionIn the News

There has been much discussion in the media over the past few days about the rise in the number of 15 minute care visits for elderly and disabled people across the UK.

Some people are outraged by this trend, others point to budget cuts and suggest that there is insufficient money for alternative courses of action.

We feel strongly about this issue and suggest there is a rational way to make sense of the apparent dilemma.

Why should our view count?

The focus of our work here are in8 is to help people who are stuck – for any reason. We have training and lots of experience in what this really means. We also have a track record of successfully guiding hundreds of people though a process of identifying their innate needs, and then helping them to find ways (personalised ways which work well for each individual – utilising their natural aptitudes, abilities and interests) to get any unmet needs met.

Looking at care situations from the perspective of innate needs throws up some interesting truths. We can see, for instance, that all well-being, mental and even physical health improves naturally when people’s needs are met in balance.

The Need for Attention

Of all the innate needs of human beings, the need for Attention is one of the most misunderstood. It is the hidden currency of our times. It is the reason why some people will do absurd things to be on TV – whether it is Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here, The Jonathan Ross Show or local TV. Many people do things because of their innate need for attention even without being consciously aware of it. It is the motivating force behind the fashion industry and our celebrity culture.

For a practical example; imagine that you are at any meeting where a dozen people are sat around a table. When there is a temporary lull in the conversation or debate, consider the next person to speak. It is not necessarily the person with the best idea, the most power, or the best overview about the purpose of the meeting – it is the person with the biggest need for attention at that moment.

Care is About Providing What is Needed

One of the positive trends over recent years has been that the phrase “the needs of our customers / clients / patients” is clearly being used more often than ten years ago. Unfortunately, details about exactly which needs are being talked about are often conveniently skipped over.

Our current target obsessed culture naturally focusses on those things which can be quantified – things such as physical support: providing meals, helping people get out of bed, get to the toilet, getting washed etc. However, helping people to meet emotional needs such as the need for Respect, the need for Attention and the need for Control are harder to measure – but are often at least as important (and sometimes even more important!) than those obviously physical needs.

If you want a more detailed illustration of this argument, take a look at a previous blog post: why depression should be associated with childbirth.

When looked at from this perspective, it is obvious why 15 minute visits are a stupid idea – both in terms of the needs of the Carer and the Cared-for. Focussing on the purely physical tasks and ignoring the soft skills relating to the interaction between humans gives a grossly distorted view of what Caring really entails. Taking sensible account of innate human needs such as Respect, Control and Attention could lower costs and provide more effective services.

The Bigger Picture

I look forward to a time when the bean counters who run our services begin to understand that focussing on getting needs met is not some airy-fairy New Age Utopian dream, but an immensely practical, effective and humane way to both reduce costs and improve well-being outcomes.

If you wish to find out more about how in8 can help you or your organisation to improve well-being, please contact us. We have recently launched a practical well-being tool called in8 Cards to help bring these ideas into common use.