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.



A common factor runs through all the examples we have encountered so far: none of them are underpinned by a clear and agreed theory of purpose.

This may not seem much of a problem. Schools, news-media, risk management, ethics committees and the rest operate routinely, even if they have not worked out their purposes perfectly. And some would argue that values statements and missions adequately define these systems’ purposes anyway.

But to me this is a classic example of the packet trap. The point of creating a well thought out theory of purpose is to guide and inform everything you do, within a particular system. A developed theory about ‘why we are in business’ enables everyone in the system to assess specific policies and actions ...

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