Thoughtful Health Care offers a timely antidote to a climate dominated by endless rules, regulations, mission statements, and codes of practice. Fixation on avoiding risk at all costs has created a checkbox culture where everyone is treated according to standardized plans. Yet, people are complicated, and cannot be understood disconnected from the complex histories, values, and environments that shape us. Obsessive focus on “safety first” has obscured this reality and drastically undervalued critical thinking and insightful practice. David Seedhouse explains how simplistic labeling, mindless targets and empty slogans have created a delusion of control and efficiency, obscuring actual patient and carer realities. Using thought-provoking examples from health care and beyond, the book advocates the restoration of thoughtfulness, creativity, and independence in health work. By reading this book, students and practitioners alike will be aided in developing their decision making and critical thinking skills, and ultimately serve those in their care better and with more honesty. The book ends with a powerful and practical toolkit that can be used thoughtfully and effectively by every open-minded health worker. Thoughtful Health Care is for any health worker committed to caring with ethical awareness and practical sensitivity.



We interpret reality in our own ways, in every facet of our lives. Once our version of reality becomes comfortable to us we get complacent, satisfied with the truth we’ve made up. Very often, we get so content we stop thinking altogether.

Though this book is mostly for health workers of all kinds, it’s important to be aware that no aspect of life is immune to our acquired habit of thoughtlessness. Consequently, this chapter embarks on a brief odyssey across an apparently random set of subjects, to show how easy it is to become intellectually numb. It also explains, by example, how simple methods of thought and awareness can be used to powerful effect – no matter what area of life you are considering.

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