There seems to be a growing number of clinicians using social media to reach out and share their knowledge with the wider world; or are they? What I have come to realise is that the internet, Twitter in particular is full of passive-aggressive charlatans claiming to be the truth, the way and the life of their particular area of ‘expertise’. However, when challenged, rather than substantiate their claims and show their skill, they flounder and run away (after claiming I’ve insulted them… I hadn’t).
What I have noticed is that my experience, my skill and knowledge is incomparable to those who are considered ‘qualified’. It doesn’t matter I’m coming towards the end of my degree, have been delivering specialised training for 4 years nationally, have provided consultancy and developed training for organisations or that I work in services; I am nothing but a mere service-user and not even that experience is deemed worthy enough.
Not only is the validity of my opinion constantly questioned due to my heavily stigmatised diagnosis but because I am the very thing clinicians claim to know how to ‘effectively manage’ and heaven forbid I should tell them they’re doing it wrong… but here’s the thing; I know, because I have lived it. I am that service-user you tell not to cut on acute wards and punish by withdrawing all compassion, I am that service-user you insist on enforcing boundaries upon and have a completely different approach with everyone else, I am that service-user that you find frustrating, deskilled by and distressing. Not only that but I have spent a significant amount of time with fellow service-users as a therapy group member, peer worker, friend and colleague who share things with me far more candidly than they ever will with any clinician that does not share their experience.
What I find most irksome about this dissemination of knowledge, is that, for the most part, it is utterly fucking meaningless and feels like clinicians parading around trying to develop a profile for themselves, opening up career opportunities and getting lots of invisible pats on the back. This in itself is fine if that’s what you want to do, however the focus of changing services is somewhat lost. If you truly want to change services and think of more effective ways of working, practice what you preach. Model it, make it work. Don’t tell me about it and seek praise for it. Blogging about ways of working is useful, but don’t make it about you. The majority of people reading these blogs are already like-minded; this is what makes me feel this is a futile, ego massaging exercise. Target the people that need the information, not those that agree and give positive affirmation.
‘Working effectively with…’ seems to be choice phrase in these sorts of articles/blogs/tweets. Working effectively, to me means making the lives of clinical staff easier. Very rarely is thought applied to service-user experience. Not once have I read something along the lines of “we have to stop doing this because it is detrimental”, “this causes untold distress” or “this has to change because we’re fucking people up and making them worse”. Own what you do. I have to. ‘You’ tell me I have to.
I spend my working days battling with clinicians who have opposing ideas of what is ‘effectively’ working with someone. I attempt to explore why something may be detrimental and I back this up with my own experience and more importantly, theory – because that’s the stuff that they’re really bothered by, that’s the stuff that holds weight, isn’t it; another clinician’s idea of what is right. How could we ever trust the opinion or knowledge of a service-user; someone that was once deemed acutely unwell? The fact is, they can’t – we are forever besmirched by our experience and will never be able to hold the same power as a clinician. Even those qualified that have been under services are still discounted. If this is how we stigmatise those that are of use, what the fuck are we doing to those we’re delivering services to?
The crux of my dislike of these blogs is that it feels as though often ideas of working are taken from the mouths of service-users, reformulated and regurgitated by omniscient clinicians.
This has to change, there must be a paradigm shift in the way we approach delivering services. Service-users know what does and doesn’t work for them, fucking listen. ‘Collaborative working’ and ‘service-user consultancy’ are popular buzzwords for service providers, however their meanings are often bastardised and replaced by tokenistic involvement that clinicians deem ‘meaningful’. Acknowledge sometimes we know shit, acknowledge sometimes have a better idea of your job than you do, stop fighting that and utilise us. Let us do what we’re here to fucking do and help facilitate that. Stop standing in our way, let our voices be heard. Stop fucking silencing us. Stop pissing in the face of co-production.