The incident

I was treating a patient within her own home and they did not want to have any interaction with dressings or medications.  At first I was frustrated and I was unsure of how to treat this patient, when I asked why, they mentioned that they followed the Pagan belief.  I then went and did some research at to what natural remedies I could use and then I talked to them about what they would like to happen and the alternative options I had found, they were happy with the remedies and I was able to use this for her treatment.

1. Identities of the actors in the situation

Narrator: Female Podiatrist in her 20s/30s, white British, married with 2 children, church of England, sociable, union rep, university qualified, lives in house with average cleanliness, online shopper, mentally stable, reserved, modest.

Patient – Retired university lecturer, female, single, white British, no family, no friends, Pagan, lesbian, chose to be socially isolated, lives in flat, spent a lot of time in bed / living room, healthy.

2. Context of the situation

The situation takes place during a professional home visit, where care usually took place in the living room.  The living space was cluttered and very untidy, the patient would usually be in her night clothes and not very covered up. The patient had her bed in her living room too, as she spent most of her time in bed in her living room.

3. Emotional reaction

Frustration – due to noncompliance, cross, anxiety – due to not knowing about patient’s religion / beliefs, curiosity.  The podiatrist was younger at the time and felt there was importance in following the rules and processes and this was something new to her so she was anxious about how to deal with this situation.

4. Representations, values, norms, ideas, prejudice: The frame of references of the person who experienced the shock.

Importance of a social network – The narrator believes it is important to socialise and have a strong social network of friends and family.

Active coping – problem solver – The narrator believes that regarding work issues if there is a problem with the patient she will find a way to ensure that she finds a solution so she is able to carry out her treatment and the patient is happy and cooperative.

Value of diversity – the narrator values difference and diversity and therefore was happy to find a solution to meet the needs of her patient.

Respect of religion – although the narrator places more importance on health and wellbeing than religion, she also makes extra effort to find a treatment that is in accordance with the religious practices of the patient and that the patient will accept rather than give up on the treatment all together.

Tidiness – the narrator found it hard to understand why the patient kept her bed in her living room which was untidy but her kitchen and bathroom were spotless, showed the narrator that the patients spent much of her time in the living room.

5. What image emerges from the analysis of point 4 for the other group (neutral slightly negative, very negative, "stigmatized", positive, very positive, real, unreal) etc?

The narrator felt the other person was very religious and follow their religious beliefs.  Found it strange that the patient used to be a lecturer and now chose to be so socially isolated.  The narrator assumed that if someone was highly educated and used to be a lecturer then they would have a good social network.  Found it difficult to understand why the patient would put their bed in their living room and that their living room was so untidy and messy yet other parts of the house like the kitchen and bathroom were spotless.

6. Representations, values, norms, prejudice: The frame of references of the person or group that is causing the shock / that caused the shock in the narrator.

Importance of religion –the recognition of the divine in nature is at the heart of Pagan belief. Pagans are deeply aware of the natural world and see the power of the divine in the ongoing cycle of life and death. Most Pagans are eco-friendly, seeking to live in a way that minimises harm to the natural environment.

Isolation – Maybe due to her beliefs she felt that people would not understand her religion and chose to therefore keep herself isolated. As she had no friends or family this makes socialising even more challenging.  The patient kept her bed in the living room close to her Television as that was her form of human contact.

Education – Highly education and a previous university lecturer, is interested in the world around as she would often watch programmes on current affairs.

7. Does the situation highlight any problem concerning the professional practice, or in general about the respect of cultural differences in intercultural situations?

The experience was initially negative and frustrating but turned into positive as the narrator was able to come up with solutions to be able to treat the patient but also respect the religious beliefs at the same time. The professional practice should be able to be flexible and find solutions if cultural differences arise.  Finding a way to articulate and connect the objectives of the medical treatment with the cultural practices of the professional is the very essence of intercultural negotiation. A key moment of this negotiation is the recognition of the values / preferences of the patient as valid and important. This incident is a very nice illustration to the capacity of discovering the rationality of the other and of negotiation.