2 recent events highlighted what is, and what is not, the solution focused approach.
At the recent SF24 Conference I was invited to speak in a plenary session along with Sofie Geisler (Mexico), Anton Stellamans (Belgium) Emma Burns (New Zealand) and Jason Pascoe (NSW) to discuss using a solution focused approach in large scale organisations. Each of us spoke from/about areas that we work in: Government, United Nations, Police, Education, and Health. You can watch our plenary session here.
While I was being interviewed, I was asked to speculate about what might happen if a Solution Focused Approach was implemented throughout the health sector, and in particular through the management and governance of the sector - how would this impact on the micro (individual) through to the macro (government). One of the things that I imagined was seeing good news stories on the front page of the paper. Generally speaking we only see the bad news stories - problems, budget blowouts, deaths, bed block, ambulance ramping, staff discontent etc. But, what sort of good news stories would cause the government to take notice? Perhaps budget savings, better health outcomes, or staff who want to stay in the sector and are proud of the work they do.
A recent article in the media took a very different approach. The journalist, along with the ANMF, wanted to suggest that my "resignation is symptomatic of a system in crisis, with mental health patients facing increasingly long delays in emergency departments and clinicians burning out".
I don't want to be critical of the journalist or of the ANMF as they are just doing their job. The journalist is looking for stories and wants the community to ask questions about what is happening. The Union is trying to advocate for nurses and seek better work environments. But for me it is a very different problem, and the way to solve it would take a very different approach.
What if we could use a Solution Focused Approach to build a better health System. Interestingly, national policy directs mental health services to be strengths based and not deficit based. So what would it look like if our whole approach to the sector was strength based? Imagine if politicians, executives, and the media all focused on what was working rather than what was broken? Imagine if we highlighted our strengths and resources, and built upon what was working, What would be the first sign of this approach working?
Perhaps we would be building up a better health system?
Perhaps it is time for a new approach, putting a Solution Focus at the core of everything we do.