Here at Kaleidoscope we are always looking for new ways to achieve our mission of bringing people together to improve health and care.
For our latest venture, we're exploring the avenue of storytelling as a way to overcome some of the barriers in health and care.
In Unheard in Healthcare we are collecting and presenting stories from all corners of the health and care community. Our aim is twofold. Firstly, we want to give people an opportunity to share their story. Secondly, we hope to spark conversations and debate between parts of the health system that don’t always have enough time to connect, including patients, clinicians, researchers, management and policy folk.
But what's so special about storytelling? How does it help us? As humans we use stories to connect, to share and to make sense of the world. Stories open up channels of communication that evoke empathy and understanding. This helps to ensure that different ideas and perspectives are engaged with when decisions are made, which has become ever more important in light of the huge challenges we face in health and care.
Here are a few reasons why we think it's important:
1. Understanding At a recent Melting Pot Lunch we talked about rudeness, and how it can sometimes be a front for a lack of understanding. When we do understand each other, we might realise that the unwelcome glance or the abrupt answer is not a reflection of our relationship. Instead, it may be a reflection of the pressures of the system, something at home or even just catching someone on a bad day. If we create the space for understanding and empathy to grow, then the complex nature of this apparent rudeness would be recognised.
Storytelling is a well-used tool for creating understanding across cultures.Anthropologists found that hunter-gatherers often used storytelling as a means of achieving cooperation between tribes where there was potential for conflict. Stories were used to share norms and values and prompted an understanding between tribes. When we tell stories well, we not only help people to understand what we are trying to say, help them to really understand our values.
"We use stories to connect, to share and to make sense of the world."
Bringing it back to the present day, we often talk about the disconnect between different parts of the health and care sector. How often have we heard about the 'divide' between clinicians and managers, or accounts of rude NHS staff or patients? By promoting the power of storytelling in creating shared understanding, it offers another way to bridge such gaps.
2. Provoking There's no mystery as to why Adam Kay's book 'This is going to hurt' won so many awards. The provocative nature of his story laid bare the turbulent lifestyle of junior doctors, from their 97-hour weeks, life and death situations and darkly humorous tales. Kay has ultimately connected the public with the reality of the lives of junior doctors, which was evident when his book won the public vote for book of the year. His writing got many people talking and empathising, which is exactly what a great storyteller should do.
3. Connecting Individuals have found that being able to tell their story has helped themselves and others in their recovery by allowing them to connect over shared experiences. Steven, a police officer who has experienced depression, wrote that "only when I shared my emotions, did I begin to feel the load lighten and in turn spied a light at the end of the tunnel." He also noted that he learned that, by opening up, he encouraged others to do the same. We hope that by giving people a platform to share their story, whatever it may be, it can help them and others connect and support one another.
To see the power of storytelling in action, please join us at our Unheard in Healthcare live storytelling event where we'll be showcasing some of the moving stories collected from across the health and care community.