What is our biggest lesson from the past two years? To listen.

Black History Month has given us the opportunity to reflect – reflect on matters that have been highlighted by the events of the past two years, but also on what we have learned, and how we can use these learnings to influence our actions.  

As a team, we recognise what a challenging time it has been for many within our community and how so many lives have been profoundly impacted. 

We have learned so much, but for me, one lesson that stands head and shoulders above the rest, is the need to listen. Listen to what both our colleagues and our patients have to say without comment or judgement – to truly understand what is needed. We no longer aim to learn from theoretical discussion, but instead seek to be educated by people’s lived experiences and hear their stories. 

And we intend to make it our responsibility, as people in a position of authority, to speak up on behalf of others – to advocate for all areas of our community and use our position for the greater good.  

The past two years have undoubtedly refocused our attention. While it has been immensely challenging for us all, we hope that the awareness raised and increased appetite for talking and discussing what matters, will create a true legacy that can help to address inequalities in our local communities.  

This summer we were the first to employ two Vaccine Equity Co-ordinators, Eva and Jeredyne, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response to their work. In essence, we wanted to bridge the gap that exists between different areas of our community and understand what the challenges were, so that we can endeavour to do more. In the early days of this project, our aim was to broaden access to vaccination, to break down barriers and ensure that no one was left behind, but it has become so much more. As the Co-ordinators’ roles have evolved beyond the vaccination programme, we have recognised that our work culture and our approach has changed too. We understand the need to listen so much more in order to gain greater insight into the communities we serve. 

So, we want to thank everyone who has been open and shared their stories and insight with us. We are both appreciative and humbled, and look forward to working with our patients, our colleagues and our peers to continually improve our understanding and knowledge, in order to inform our choices and the commitments we make. 

Katherine Saunders, CEO, Alliance for Better Care