Do some people have an atavistic urge to care for people and others not? Private v's Public Healthcare.
As well as an alcoholic in recovery, the other thing that defines who I am and what I do now is that I am also a nurse. I have worked on wards, in old people's homes, in the community, in an office as nurse management and extensively in the addiction treatment field. This wealth of experience has made me the person I am today, the drinking may have hindered the progress but being an addict whilst caring for people certainly gave me a unique, if not unconventional and at times a little hypocritical, take on life. As many know, I was stabbed and nearly killed in early recovery which far from scaring me, gave me a fresh approach on living life day by day. From all of these experiences and glimpses into people's lives that I have gained and consider a privilege, the most powerful was my time working in palliative care with the dying. It is something that many people don't get when I say that I was at my most content in all my nursing experience. This is my take on palliative care - the moment you are looking after someone in the last stages of life, everything else leaves you, all worries and stresses, it is probably the only time in my life I have had the pleasure of truly living in the moment. The ability and desire to do absolutely anything to make that person comfortable and at peace for the remainder of time they have left is incredible. It's also a two way thing, often the dying care for their carer in that indescribable and unconditional way. Only people who have spent time with the dying have the honour of this valuable experience and because of this, my palliative care nursing days were some of the most rewarding days of my life.
This nursing direction that my life took from a relatively early age made me question a lot along the way. I could see a quality healthcare system working but I could also understand private healthcare, it's purpose and it's frailties. I was fortunate working and living in a country that had a the NHS, a quality public health care system, but even with all that in place, the golden age of private nursing homes and money men came in to exploit a desperate market (some care and some do not and this is where I feel uncomfortable with balancing care and profit). Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with private healthcare and never have, it has its place for cue jumping and luxury treatment for those that are willing to pay and it takes a burden off the public healthcare providers. Private hospitals are lovely, my love for them ends when the care system fails, money outweighs perfection and one of the reasons I stuck my loyalties to the NHS and never sold out to the private sector was because inevitably, when the private boys club haven't done their homework correctly and have put profits before patient care, the system quickly collapses and when something went wrong it would be the NHS that picked up the pieces. I suppose what I'm saying is that in terms of structure and life saving ability, the NHS is far better equipped and supported to provide a service, than the private firms who see that dreaded cash cow, ever can and ever will. The basis and simple reason for this is that care providers must care, it's the root of everything, it's what makes the nurses who I've had the pleasure to work alongside some of the happiest and most amazing people that I've ever met. So 'the nursing home scam', maybe that's a little harsh, came around with places that on the surface were beautiful, luxurious and a nice environment to spend ones final days on this planet. The reality when you look only a little bit under the surface is a disorganized, under staffed, frankly uncaring 'service', providing no value for money, employing staff who are cheap but cheap for a reason and cutting corners at every opportunity to ensure a healthy return on the investment. Again, I am not knocking the truly committed carers in these places, they are again amongst the most naturally caring folk I have met, the good ones should be paid a lot more but they are not and that hinders patient care but as a business it keeps profit margins high. I don't even have a problem with making money in the caring game, however these people cannot be allowed to make money at the expense of the patients care and client experience and that is what still happens today in the nursing home business and is mirrored in the addiction rehab business. That is the issue, money men who have no medical credentials, just businessmen, or those who have become jaded and no longer care about the patients, have essentially hijacked a business that without compassion they have no place being a part of.
This leads me to ask myself the question, what makes a person caring and gives them this overwhelming desire to help people? I feel this atavistic urge to care with every one of my clients and turning anyone away breaks my heart even today when I have become a little more hardened and realistic that I cannot save everyone. Why is this? I'm not claiming to be an incredible person or a saint or anything close. More importantly, what makes some people the polar opposite of this? Uncaring, not bothered who they turn away or hurt and only interested in money and why choose a caring market to extort money out of people? There's nothing to be gained as a good business person when you don't care about the outcomes to the individuals using your service. This is where your business fails, you may have money but you have no soul, you have no conscience, so step away and let the people who can run a business at the same time as offering unrivalled quality of care take over. It would be a travesty to me for my home country to lose the NHS and all that it provides.
The main thing I've learnt is that whichever group a person falls into, the caring or the uncaring, they generally don't change. I cannot change these people and the way they operate but I can operate in a better, more professional manner until, as people across Europe are realizing, there is a cheaper and better quality option with CapeRecovery. Individual case management is the way forward, joint working is the way forward, care planning is the way forward, honesty and transparency is the way forward and a personalized service is the way forward. The joy of helping just one person get the best experience and become free from addiction is a bigger reward to me than millions in the bank. I'm happy doing what I'm doing and the peace that it gives me knowing that I am doing the right thing is priceless. Life is good and I want to share that with people.
This is an important time in my own personal development and recovery. Although I am often outspoken, I must accept things for how they are. Although I am naturally cynical, I must stick to my belief that people are inherently good and doing things for the right reasons. I must now work with the people I have turned my back on because positivity breeds positivity, it breeds hope and that's what ultimately helps people recover. I have a meeting next week with arguably the biggest private service provider of mental health and addiction treatment in Cape Town. They approached me and I will happily put aside my prejudice against big organisations if they offer the people of Cape Town affordable treatment or help me in my quest to help each person who contacts us by supporting and connecting us with NPO's and NGO's who we can work with and get our clients the best treatment. We will see how that goes and if I'm not convinced and they want some sort of exclusivity then I just won't work with them, I've learnt that we have convictions and whatever the perceived reward, we must stick to them. What the meeting does go to show is that when you try to do the right thing, people can't fault you and are essentially forced to work with you rather than against you. Any positive change towards more people finding a new way of life away from the pain of addiction is a step in the right direction. If the people providing the services have this mind-set then the power can be harnessed and we can exist together for the greater good.
I think I've learnt a lot but I've still got a lot to learn, what I do know for sure is that I like facing every day with a clear head and after nearly three years of sobriety it gets clearer every day. My faith is strong and I have everything to be grateful for, I have a small yet loyal and supportive group of family and friends who love me and want me to be happy and I love you all, this is the alcoholfreeme.com