To compare a hospital to a prison is challenging. Maj Rom, leader in Sweden for the project to improve the experience of life for the Elderly, used this comparison to wake us up, to make us think, to challenge our perceptions.
I found this a shattering concept, but the more I considered it, the more I realised we can learn from the challenge. Where else, toher than in a hospital and a prison do we:
• Have rules regarding who may enter, who may visit and the times of this visit (and even what they may bring in with them)
• Segregation for those with problems (like infections)
• Rows of beds, organised like cells, with a co-ordinating point for the “guards”
• A hierarchy that determines behaviour and where the inmate/patient is the recipient and often seen as the lowest of the low – to be done to be organised, to have rules explained
I could go on, but you know how the list continues. You may even discover that some of the aspects of prison are better than hospital – privacy, own TV, better food etc.) Try it out at your next meeting. Or better still, walk around your nearest hospital with the eyes of an alien comparing it with a prison.
The challenge is not to make the comparisons, but to figure but what this means to us. It’s not about criticising hospitals but it is about engaging with what we have created and finding the strength to change what we don’t like.