A hospitalization is a major event for almost every person. People remember razor-sharp details about the disease and the treatment they experienced from caregivers. They can be positive and full of praise for the nurses, the doctors and the therapists who did their work with heart and soul, with knowledge and with an eye for the person behind the patient. But sometimes they are stories of experiences in which people did not feel seen and recognized in their contact with the care provider.
Everyone has the fundamental need to be seen as a unique person. The American clinical psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow (1901-1970), known from the Maslow Pyramid, placed the need for contact and connection with the people around you in the top 3 of human needs.
Nowadays, there are reservations about the hierarchical order in such a pyramid structure. But it is agreed that this need for contact, along with basic physical needs and the need for safety and security, is a fundamental human need.
This is based on the holistic view of man, in which a person is regarded as a being whose physical, psychological, social and religious aspect forms a unity. Seen from that perspective, it should be obvious to treat people from a holistic perspective, especially if they are vulnerable due to illness or disability.
And yet it still happens today that working in healthcare is put away as "washing buttocks". While a person in need of this care is so much more than just "buttocks that need to be washed."
When I hear these kinds of comments, I always wonder if the person himself ever needed help with washing and dressing, getting up from the chair or going to the toilet. When you have experienced that, it becomes really clear how much difference it makes whether the other person treats you as a person or as an object, as buttocks that must be washed. And that it is even more important if you are always dependent on others due to illness...
Henri Nouwen, a Roman Catholic priest and professor who gave up his chair at Harvard University and went to live and work in a community of people with disabilities, aptly demonstrates the need for real contact, for connectedness with others in his book ”A pearl in Gods eyes": "...their deepest grief is not that they are handicapped, but ... that no one seems to care. It is easier to accept that you can no longer talk or walk, that you cannot eat independently and that others always have to help you with washing and dressing, than that no one appreciates you for who you are. ”
That's how important it is to be seen and recognized as a unique person!