PG's Tips for Survival at the RHN

Sidney encounters Communication Problems

In the words of an advertisement, 'it's always been good to talk - now it's better to talk-talk'. This is fine for those who can, thought Sidney, who could talk but only quietly. There are many fellow 'inmates' for whom talking, let alone being understood, is a BIG problem. This is different from those who have a voice, but can't follow a train of thought or a conversation without forgetting what they have just said. This is frustrating - not just for the individual, but true too of any staff, relative, visitor or friend with whom they are trying to communicate.

This, Sidney reflected, was on the personal level - how about the inter-personal level among those who could talk clearly? He knew that he was treading on 'holy ground', but nothing ventured or in the words of the SAS motto (also used by Delboy) 'He who dares wins'.

Sidney was, of course, referring to the communication problems between staff and those patients who could talk.

Thinking of the last group first, he was often amazed at the bitterness with which one could speak about another - Sidney had to remind himself that they were also here due to some neurological condition, caused either by illness or accident. What really saddened him was when anyone died before having made peace with a relative. Sidney was so thankful that he was at one with all his family, and above all, they knew what he thought of each.

Moving to the most controversial group: the staff. Our Sid had noticed how they shared something in common with all communities - whether establishments like this, or colleges, schools and businesses. This was simply that good communication is essential to the success of daily operations. Sidney knew, of course, this was no new discovery!
     How could this seemingly elusive element be found? In the "ever-so 'umble" opinion of our Sid, it was through open, honest talk face-to-face. Not the confrontation from which so many shy away- quite rightly, for anger is counter-productive. Neither should there be any grumbling and asides, which Sidney had heard too often. Bitterness was also destructive, eating away at individuals. You could have a hundred meetings (and goodness knows how many of these there are every day) but still not communicate. You can talk 'until the cows come home' but still not communicate, since true communication must be a two-way meeting of minds. In short, it is people talking, listening and responding to each other - with an honest openness, which will lead to mutual trust and respect.

That's all very well in theory, thought Sidney, but how about in practice? Who reads this anyway?

Maybe there is more than a little truth in the saying that 'it's always been good to talk - now it's better to talk-talk'.

Written by Peter Gow
October 2003

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