I do still say yes to carefully chosen speaking engagements, despite my recent jaded post. I’ll share my story when I feel an organization has demonstrated that their values are in alignment with mine.
One of those organizations is the Stollery Children’s Hospital. I was their Family Centred Care Consultant from 2009 to 2011 and I was pleased to give a talk last night to their Patient and Family Centred Care Council to talk about the history and why a group of moms, including me, lobbied so hard for the hospital to start up a Council ten years ago.
One of the benefits about crafting a talk is that I get to reflect and revisit my own intentions. I thought about why we began the Council, (to have a mechanism to formally introduce the family voice into the hospital), how we did it and what we did. (I’ve written about some of what we did here and here and an article about their Family Talks program is here).
I realized while preparing my talk that how we created the Council and subsequent patient and family centred care initiatives was through first building a caring community amongst families, staff, physicians and leadership. And that is because community engagement or patient centred care or whatever you want to call it – is first and foremost a social movement.
Margaret Wheatley says it well:
And the guy dancing with his shirt off in the video above? The people willing to dance with their shirts off begin the movement, but it is the folks who join the dancing on the hill who continue it on, as has happened at the hospital long after I left.
I’m proud to have been a part of this movement so long ago. My fear for other organizations is that engagement has become merely a volunteer coordination exercise to get butts around the boardroom table. I wring my hands because I can see that the intention of community engagement is being eroded by bureaucracy and professionalization.
My epiphany last night for folks looking to start or revitalize a movement: Harken back to your grassroots, to your community, to why you are doing what you are doing, because that’s where the heart of a movement really lives.