My father, right now, is receiving fairly significant care in a hospital in British Columbia. I went there to visit him and see how he was doing. For a 93 year old man he shows a strength of will that goes well with his strength of character. He is a kind, soft spoken man. People like him.
It's odd that what I admire about my Dad is also what worries me a little bit about him. There are times, as we all know, when being a nice person also requires being a strong self advocate. Given my Dad's age and temperament, would he be able to do that? So when I was visiting in the hospital I could tell that the nurses and doctors liked him and responded to him with kindness but I was also aware that they were aware that we, the family, were there and watching the interactions. I found myself watching their moods, watching the way they expressed themselves, watching how natural the interactions seemed.
I am not naturally untrusting but I'm also aware that systems are systems and that people who receive service within a system can cease to be anything remotely human. I don't want that to happen to my dad. I found no evidence of anything to be concerned about. Even at a distance, over the phone, speaking with nurses and doctors, I heard deep caring in their voice.
Situations like this remind me of the support that I provide to people with disabilities, would it withstand my own scrutiny of those who serve my father? Would my moods drive my behaviour or would my professionalism refuse temper to rule my words or actions? Would I speak with kindness or would I speak with patience, those are very different things, I wish people would realize that.
Kindness is different from patience and one doesn't guarantee the other.
Do I understand that well enough? I certainly did when watching those who came into contact with my Dad when I was visiting. I was pleased when a nurse came in to tell him about a procedure that needed doing that Dad stopped her and questioned her about what was going to happen and why it needed to be done.
My Dad didn't need me at all. He's got this. He in his own quiet way managed to communicate who was in control and who was making decisions and who had the right to question actions taken.
I think of this every time I call the hospital as I listen carefully to the tone of voice of the nurses I speak to ... do they know I listen for anger or impatience or frustration? I don't know. But if I miss it, I know my Dad won't.