Communication was very much to the fore at the May members’ meeting of
Todmorden U3A. Firstly, there was the business of the AGM, probably not of
great interest to most readers, suffice it to say that all the officers’ reports
showed that the organisation is in good shape as it enters its third year with
212 members, a quarter of whom live in HX7, including Mytholmroyd. Some
travel in from places even further afield, such as Rochdale and Sowerby
Bridge. The spirit of adventure among older folk clearly takes some killing off.
Then the main speaker, Dr David Ryland returning for a third time to
entertain with his dry wit, embarked on a talk on the same theme in the
realm of medicine. He started by saying that when he was trained as a
doctor the bedside manner was something that would emerge in the process
of practising medicine. No training was given to doctors in how best to
communicate with patients.
This has all changed, he told his audience but he had to learn the hard way
and used three examples from his years of practice to illustrate the point.
One of these started with a patient calling the doctor way out of hours to
attend to “her Billy”. This call was responded to with some alacrity only for
the doctor to find that Billy was in fact a budgerigar. As well as realising that
Billy’s owner was not in the best of health herself, the doctor had a sense of
humour and did not take the call amiss. Billy’s owner’s health deteriorated to
the extent that she needed to go into a nursing home. Persuading her to
take this step was difficult until the doctor hit upon the ploy of telling her that
the nursing home loved budgerigars and they would love to have Billy come
and live there. Problem solved with the sensitive use of communication skills.
Another example was not a medical one at all but involved an East Asian
airline with a poor safety record. This was brought up to the level of other
airlines by eliminating the use of various local languages on the flight deck
and between the control towers in favour of English only and by eroding the
observance of a strict hierarchy amongst the different levels the flight crew.
This latter had resulted in superiors never being challenged, even when their
decisions were obviously in serious error.
Everything Dr Ryland said pointed to the need for clear communication
between people and this is an important element in U3A activities.
More information about Todmorden U3A can be found on the website or by
emailing [email protected]

Communication was very much to the fore at the May meeting of