A Force for Change
Anna van der Gaag, President of the Health Professions Council talks about Connect's commitment to change.
There has been renewed interest in recent years in the concept of ‘social movements’, and in particular the social movements in healthcare and their impact on change and innovation. Social movements have been the major drivers behind social and political changes over many centuries – the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, votes for women, anti apartheid, disability rights and environmental issues are a few examples.
Examples of social movements in healthcare include of course disability rights, but also evidence based practice, anti- smoking and other public health initiatives, ethical research, quality and safety, open access publishing, and patient involvement.
What do social movements have in common? They are all underpinned by a strong and sustained campaign, a repertoire of methods (public meetings, petitions, strong local action etc) and a commitment to change. Their success is determined by a combination of timing, organisational capacity and an ability to maintain discontent with the status quo. In addition, they need committed people, resources, good communications and a focused goal.
I suppose for me Connect has all these ingredients in large doses. It might be stretching it a little to argue that Connect is a ‘social movement’ in itself, but this is a unique combination of people with a vision and a passion to make a difference in society. Wherever I go, I tell people about Connect and its consultancy work, and often people tell me about Connect courses they have attended or publications they have read as well as Connect people they have met who have had a profound influence on their way of thinking and way of working. I am struck by the way this is an organisation that ‘walks the talk’ and is made up of a team of people, some with aphasia, some not, but all equally valued. This ongoing and sustained demonstration of their values is what creates a lasting impact. Real change can only come about when people change their way of thinking – this is what social movements throughout history have had in common – and this is, I believe, what makes Connect such a strong force for good in the world of stroke and aphasia and beyond.