Watching Matthew Rees help David Wyeth finish yesterday’s London marathon caused me to shed a tear or two. It was so inspirational to see a dedicated runner give up his opportunity for a personal best (PB) for the good of another and the event. When the two men were interviewed later David said ‘we’re in it together’. It struck me as little strange initially, running seems to be such an individual pursuit. However marathon runners obviously consider themselves a community with a ‘greater good’ beyond the individual.
I immediately thought ‘I can see this in services for disabled children’. The team around the child (TAC) is made up of different individual professionals across various sectors. They train and work in different ways. The race isn’t merely about an individuals PB but the greater good. The greater good is positive outcomes for the child and family. I wonder sometimes when we work with children and families if we become blinkered aiming just for own own professions best.
I remember back to when I was a member of a head injury rehabilitation team. We were working with a little girl who had brain damage as result of too little oxygen during complicated heart surgery. This once able little girl was unresponsive in bed unable to move and stiff. As the lead physiotherapist I determined we would give this girl the very best physiotherapy. My team and I worked hard with her on a daily basis, pushing boundaries and not giving up hope of getting her walking again. Three months later she was walking and even running. As a physiotherapist I had achieved a PPB personal professional best….. BUT what about the little girl and her family? Sadly the girls cognitive and communication skills had improved very little. The family were disappointed and having to come terms with their child looking and moving as a 6 year old but understanding and communicating as a toddler. With hindsight my treatment was good and appropriate however I wish I had had more professional selflessness and had worked more to support my speech and language and psychology colleagues.
The TAC could often be better described as a group around the child GAC. Organisational agendas and individual professional approaches can drive our interventions and interactions. We along side one another rather than together. To achieve great outcomes for children we need to truly function as a team. No one professional or organisation can afford to see themselves as the ‘star’ player. I would say we should give the child and family the coach role. The players have the skills but coach knows where the goal is.