Yesterday we had a huddle. A huddle is defined as a ‘close grouping of people or things’. In healthcare it’s a term that has become synonymous with patient safety, a way of anticipating problems and making sure that the views of the whole team are captured. It’s something that occurs in hospitals across the country at the start of every day. So for me, being at a huddle wasn’t that unusual.
Yesterday’s huddle was a bit different, it was run by Navigator and it brought together their partners in health, the police, the government and the third sector and also people who were just interested in what they do. Looking round the room the guest list was pretty impressive.
Navigator aims to divert people away from the cycle of violence, through interventions in the hospital and then in the community and supports them towards better lives. It does this by just being human and by giving people hope. Hope that change is possible.
But what I saw yesterday was that the reach of Navigator extends far beyond their service users, it actually gives everyone hope.
The Emergency Department staff work so hard to improve medical outcomes for patients but know that they can’t sort out the myriad of social problems that patients come along with and that their job ends at the front door. You can see that they wish they could do more. Navigator has filled that gap for them giving them some comfort that they can pass people on to a pair of safe hands.
It gives hope to people who behind the uniform have another story, of violence and loss, and who so bravely shared that with us yesterday. Hope that things can now be different for others in their situation because of some people in pink t-shirts who they might bump into on a trip to the emergency department when life seems at its worst.
I am sure that when the evaluation is done we will know what we already believe, that Navigator helps people get to a better place and live happier and more productive lives. What’s much more difficult to capture but what was so palpable in the room yesterday is the change in culture that Navigator has brought with it; that different view of life, the eternal optimism, the belief in change, hope that we can do things differently. And that is infectious. People talk about violence being infectious but violence prevention is a contagion and one that is a whole lot more virulent than violence.
When you hear Emergency Medicine consultants talking about sparkles and unicorns you know that things are changing.