It seems that the recent Star Tribune series, “Voiceless and Vulnerable,” has once again shown us that we can neither become complacent about, nor satisfied with, progress gained. Unfortunately, we have to get past all the finger-pointing, the denial, the “It is someone else who dropped the ball” rhetoric, and the “What we said was taken out of context” dismissals, to move forward with collaborative, including systemic, change.
There are many elements leading to why many residents are receiving less than optimum care. It will be difficult to change all negative elements rapidly and we certainly know that many positive things are going on. These, unfortunately, are sometimes forgotten.
What I have difficulty with is: how those of us in the field, at all levels, say we are caring, concerned, and diligent about what we do and are still not willing to point out inappropriate care, oversight, mismanagement, and so on? How can we say we care and yet let fear stop us from standing up for the well-being of those placed in our responsibility? Howcan our values and our inner sense of right and wrong be so weakened by fear of job status, of reputation, and of retaliation, that the vulnerability experienced by those we serve may in fact be increased?
Without identifying percentages, I know that most humans have values that say we should not harm others. We have
values, religion-based perhaps, through family, community, or developed more individually, that tell us we need to protect those individuals unable to protect themselves. How can we not join in the acknowledgment that things are amiss and that we need to correct them for the betterment of those we serve and in a selfish way, for our spiritual well-being?
We must step up and report problems, neglect, and system detriments. We must challenge our fear of retaliation for the betterment of those around us. At times, that will mean filing a report and signing our name. Other times it will involve saying, “I want to help search for a solution, even when I know it will be slow going.” There is no positive value in denying obvious complexities. There is, however, positive value in identifying and owning some of them.
The feelings one can attain from taking the risk of documenting and reporting negative activities hopefully leading to change are so much better than the feeling of knowing what one should have done and didn’t do.
Let us again learn from the recent past. Let us benefit from all our value attainment to do the right thing and move beyond personal fears for the betterment of all we serve.