Listening to stories from Community can help with teaching Cultural Awareness and bringing and ease the stress of patients.
The Department of Health and Social Services, of the Northwest Territories in Canada have a program that is about dialogue and story work. The program has people who are affected by cancer talk about their experiences and what they like and didn’t like in the hospital system. The people are recorded and it is done in their homes, so there is no stress of being in an alien environment. The recordings are shared with the Doctors and Nurses at the hospitals, they comment then it goes back to the Communities. When it goes back the people in the Community see how the doctors and nurses react, they hear what their responses are and then they can talk about it, give more information or thank the health professionals.
This is such a simple and brilliant idea. I watched one of the stories yesterday and it was great to see the reactions of the medical profession. One story, the First Nations lady said that when she was sent to the hospital, she wanted her son to come with her, but she wasn’t allowed to. She spoke of how she was afraid and the next trip to the hospital she took her son, she spoke of the need for support and the connection to her family and friends. The nurse when watching this, well her reaction was priceless. The penny dropped, she said of course you should have your son or any support person, people do it in the city all the time. So one small but important issue was solved just by having people talk up bravely from their homes and not in the hospital environment. This is something that could quite easily be done here in Australia. We could have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people talk of their fears, their expectations from their home, when they don’t have the pressure of being in a hospital, or the urge to say nice things, because you are on their ground not yours.
I loved this idea, imagine if we could just talk and explain one on one to the health professionals, and then have them react and a person to one other person, not looking at the big picture, but really seeing the patient and finding out just how important family, country and your spiritual beliefs.
This program of course is not a cure-all but it is a step in the right direction, and according to the department it is making a difference. The program also allows other health professionals to see it and the Community.