Anders Vege: When “What matters to you?” becomes really personal

Two years ago my dear friend Shaun Maher from Scotland invited me to share my personal «What matters to me-message». I thought for a little while and found in my heart the true answer to the big question. The question can find its way to the very deep of our heart, as well as being related to the practicalities of our daily life.

My three kids are of course the deepest answer to this question. Their daily life and coping changes everything. From joy to deep worries and the other way around. The love of my life is the best anchor for this roller coaster.

My mother used to be an anchor too.

After she developed dementia we kind of had to switch roles. But the contact continued to be strong and our meetings were filled with her wisdom and the way she managed to see the light in even the darkest days. It became clear to me when Shaun asked. Walking all the way through this pathway with my mom was what mattered to me. I often talked to her about my work. Meeting health professionals in Norway and talk about moving from asking “What’s the matter?” to “What matters to you?”.

One day I talked about this change in health care she responded intuitively and took both her hands to her stomach and said; “Ohhh, I could feel this here. The first you said made me feel very little. But in the other question it was space enough for all of me”. Without knowing it, I think she nailed the differences of those two questions. “What’s the matter?” is perfect to find and set an illness, a diagnose. But those kind of questions have never been ment to find a whole person, and can therefore not be used to create person centered care.

I heard Maureen Bisognano from Institute of Healthcare Improvement, Boston speaking in Paris April 2014. My mentor and dear friend inspired me deeply, and we created a «What matters to you-day» in Norway two months later. One of the municipalities that joined the first «What matters to you-day» was my hometown. My mother recieved health care in that town and the very same question inspired the services she recieved. Four years later the question was not “a day in June-question” in my hometown. In january 2018 she spent her last six days of life at Sandefjord medical center. And she was cared for by nurses wearing the wmty-badge every day at work. It was on their uniform, in their heart and in their hands. I don’t think “What matters to you?” can become as personal as it did those six days. So I could be her son and hold her hand.

I made a WMTY-memo for her carers and it started with: Mom has 7 children, many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. To mention the name of her children will comfort her: Ulf, Aashild, Kristin, Gunnar, Erik, Anders and Ingunn. Name everyone of them and say they love her deeply.

I wish you the best for your personal “What matters to you-day”.

Anders Vege: How WMTY-day started. From heart to hands