Today’s blog is a contribution from someone who would like to remain anonymous. She is an HR professional in her 40's.
An extremely powerful and insightful post.
Over to our author:
Lockdown, COVID 19 and a Secure Psychiatric Ward.
Image is a collection of sheets of puzzles, mindfulness exercises, colouring pens and a plastic wallet. This was the only attempt to offer therapeutic intervention in 2 weeks.
This story looks at when individual kindness gets lost in a system which lacks humanity and mutates to something unintentionally unkind. This makes me wonder if we can accidentally design out kindness, can we rethink and design it in?
The story is primarily about my experience as an inpatient on a secure psychiatric ward during the COVID-19 crisis. I wanted to document some of what I have seen and experienced, not to criticise or to blame, but to understand and learn from. The lessons here can be applied to workspaces too, this environment just amplified them so is a good place to observe and understand.
The ward had a maximum of 20 patients at any one time and between 6–12 staff depending on time of day and level of need.
Individually most of the staff showed warmth, kindness and humanity but the stronger collective feel of the environment was different - it lacks humanity- it has no time or space for human emotion. There is no predictable routine to the day, everything is rushed and tempers are often short. I want to understand how it ends up this way - why is kindness not enough to ensure the process is kind? How does the environment and all the processes together create a sense of a forgotten world, a world uncared for, and lacking in basic humanity.
The examples are small and on their own no more than an irritation, but the cumulative effect is much bigger:
When I tell my family and friends these struggles, they hear me as someone trying to push back at a system or someone resisting help as I’ve done this all my life, but it honestly isn’t. Each thing alone would be no big deal, but cumulatively they present as an utterly crippling environment. I want to trust the process, but I need to be a part of it - I need to be involved and not have it done to me, I need to be seen and heard.
I am left confused as to why a place filled with people who, by the nature of their profession, care deeply, end up being part of an environment seemingly devoid of humanity.
I will provide feedback to the ward and they may or may not change because of this, but much of what I feedback would be obvious if they followed the user experience.
I see many parallels between this and the workplace. It is the small actions and inactions which create organisational culture, where positive intent can be lost in layers of process, where processes dehumanise the person and in doing so cause damage.
What things which are seemingly small do people in your workforce complain about? Can we fix them? Would this have a cumulative positive effect. Why would we not do these things if they have a positive effect. Can we design kindness into our environments.
How can an organisation's culture shift one ripple at a time?
Thank you so much to our author for sharing such a candid piece.
This blog really demonstrates the importance of care and kindness in workplaces, for both employees and clients, regardless of setting. Our author gives us some lovely questions on which to reflect on our own work environments, considering whether we are ensuring the best experience for employees and encouraging us to intentionally design kindness into workplaces.
If you are concerned about your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one, the following link will take you to an NHS page with a curated list of helplines and support groups that can offer expert advice:
Thank you once again to our author for a brave, honest and thought-provoking piece.
If you would like to submit a blog for this series, please send your work via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you soon for the next instalment!
#Kindness #BeTheRippleBlogs #BeKind #mentalhealth #workplace #wellbeing
You can find PDFs of all blog pieces: