Harold and Kate: an appreciation

Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission.

The social care and health world lost two very special people in the last week.

On Wednesday, Harold Bodmer, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Director at Norfolk, died suddenly at a meeting in County Hall, Norwich. On Saturday, Dr Kate Granger died with her husband Chris and loved ones by her side at St. Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds.

Harold was 61 and Kate was 34 — their age, situation and deaths could not have been more different but the warmth of the tributes for each shows they had more in common than we may have imagined.

Harold

I got to know Harold on visits to Norfolk, as ADASS Vice-President and from April this year as President. Harold was always thoughtful, kind and kept the best interests of people using services at the heart of what he was doing. He struggled, like so many others, with the consequences of budget reductions and the impact this had on people in need and was using his Presidential year to highlight priority areas like the challenges facing home care services and the needs of carers.

His speech to the ADASS spring conference when he became President remains a powerful call to action for us all in the adult social care sector and using his personal experience of social work training in South Africa he reminded us why what we do is so important:

“From a position of privilege I saw at first hand the powerlessness and desperation of people who had no safety net, no employment, no running water, desperately inadequate healthcare. It was a rapid lesson in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and has stayed with me for the 39 years of my career.”

Along with many others, David Behan and I released a statement on Thursday expressing our sympathy. Community Care and The Guardian shared many of the tributes and this blog from his colleague Anne Gibson summed up perfectly what so many people felt. While I can only imagine how Harold’s family are feeling, I hope that they are comforted by everyone’s messages.

Kate

Kate Granger may be better known in the healthcare world but so much of her work has resonance for us all in adult social care. Kate was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was just 29. Since then she has used her insight as a doctor to share her experience as a patient in a powerful and very moving way. One of the things she reflected upon was how staff caring for her often did not introduce themselves and the negative impact that had. This led to the truly inspirational Hello My Name Is campaign garnering support from across health and social care with high-profile backing from, among others David Cameron, Kylie Minogue and new England manager Sam Allardyce.

I met Kate briefly after her excellent speech at the NHS Confederation Conference in 2014, which is always worth watching again. But through Twitter and her blogs I felt (like so many others) connected to her and her amazingly supportive husband Chris. I was in awe of her musical and cake-baking abilities, pleased when she was appointed as a consultant in geriatric medicine, inspired by her determination to get through her bucket list and worried when her condition was clearly deteriorating.

Tributes are again pouring in — my favourites to date are from her friend Natalie Silvey, two from George Julian (first and second) and Pippa Kelly. Each them describe more eloquently than I ever could what Kate has done and the impact she has had. If you haven’t seen it before, I also recommend watching the video Kate and Chris did for Dying Matters in 2014.

I hope Chris and Kate’s family and friends are also comforted by this outpouring of affection.

Professional reflection

There is so much to learn from Harold and Kate — but there are two key messages for me:

  • See the person — both Harold and Kate asked us to connect with the humanity of what we do, whether considering the impact of the decisions we make for people in difficult circumstances or realising the difference we can make by simply saying hello and introducing ourselves to people who may be feeling scared and vulnerable.
  • Never underestimate the change one person can make — we all have an opportunity to make a difference, and Harold and Kate, both naturally quiet, unassuming individuals, have really shown us a way.

Personal reflection

It is all about the people and one thought that has been in my mind ever since I heard the news about Harold and then again when Chris shared the news about Kate — tell the people you love that you do. You never know whether you’ll get another chance.

Rest in peace Harold and Kate — our thoughts are with you.

Originally published at www.cqc.org.uk.

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