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We would like to introduce you to Alejandro Florit – Director of Assistance and Identity of the Province of Spain

 

As director of the Care and Identity Area of the Province of Spain, how do you define your role and what do you think is your greatest responsibility in promoting the charism and mission of Sisters Hospitallers throughout Spain?

Currently I am in charge of care and identity and they are two directions, two roles that converge a lot, both because on one side we are promoting the mission, what we do, and on the other side we also want a style of doing things that is different, that is very much our own, that is very faithful to what the founders dreamt of at the time.
Mission and identity go hand in hand and this is the most important and essential thing that we have to maintain. We have to maintain the possibility that the dream of our founders, which was to care for the most vulnerable people, the people who had mental health problems, continues to be well cared for, putting people at the centre and that all our professionals work together with the sisters to be able to give that quality and warmth of care to each person as they need it.

How would you describe hospital charisma and how does it influence the care we give to our patients?

The charism of hospitality has much to do with a way of being and doing. It can be lived from a Christian spirituality, from a Christian identity, but it is also a call to anyone, even non-believers, to feel this hospitality based on values. Therefore, it is something that integrates all people who have a special sensitivity to the vulnerability of others, of our neighbours. And this changes our heads a lot, because if I am aware that the person in front of me is fragile, and that I can also be fragile, and that I am going to be fragile, and that I have been fragile at some time in my life, all this makes me feel co-responsible for the suffering and discomfort of the other person, and makes us move and be in solidarity with the rest of humanity, of society.

This is something very internal to each person, and if we extrapolate it to the way we work in our centres, it makes us have a very humanising style in everything we do. We put the person we have at the centre, and not just see a sick person, but really see a person who is going through a bad time in their life, who is going through a rough patch, who is vulnerable, and we want to help them from the point of view of who we are. Each profession from what they do and what they are trained in: a psychiatrist in one way, a psychologist in another, a social worker in another way, and a person who is working in cleaning, well, also.

I think it changes the perspective of the people who work in our centres because, for example, a person who works in the cleaning department doesn’t just want to clean a room well and do their job well. In our centres, what we want is to take good care of a person who needs our room to be clean and, therefore, I think it changes a lot the perspective of care and the relationships between professionals, sisters and people being cared for.

Could you share with us any outstanding solidarity projects that have had a significant impact on the community or on the quality of life of people cared for by hospital sisters that you know of or in which you have been directly involved?

We are developing an infinite number of solidarity projects through our centres in Spain. We are encouraging each centre to promote a project in solidarity with the environment in which they are located.

Let’s say that in our DNA, we are sensitive to the vulnerability and needs of people, not only the needs of the people we have inside the centre, we also perceive that there are needs outside our centres where we are located and, therefore, we want to show solidarity with that community, with that society with which we are involved. And that is why we are developing all kinds of solidarity projects, from social canteens, to working together with other organisations such as Caritas, the Food Bank, solidarity wardrobes, there are many activities that we are developing. This is at a closer level for each of the centres, because we are also promoting international solidarity, international cooperation and fundamentally with centres where the Hospitaller Sisters also have a presence.

And so, for example, we have worked on projects in Africa, Latin America, India and Vietnam. This also makes us feel more part of a very global Hospitality project, which is not only about the people we have inside the centres, but also outside. There are many needs and we want to be open to them.
Through these projects, sometimes they also end up being part of our services and we integrate them as services. We can start working with adolescents with certain needs and then end up having a care unit for these adolescents and be able to provide them with a quality service.

What do you see as the main challenges facing care today and how are you addressing these challenges?

Well, there are many challenges. We are at this moment, now in the 21st century, in a very different way and in a very different context than our founders. But essentially I see many similarities. We are in an environment that is changing, that demands more and more from us, we have problems to finance ourselves, problems to find good professionals, we are lacking and together with all this we also have important challenges to adapt to the new realities of the people we attend to, new profiles that increasingly have more severe, more serious pathologies, that have an earlier onset, for example, we see more and more adolescents with self-harming attempts, we see more and more eating behavioural disorders, We also see more and more very serious autistic spectrum disorders and behavioural problems, or strokes in adults that leave them with profound brain damage that changes their lives a lot, and people in our centres who are also getting older because life expectancy is increasing and also, along with the needs of mental health care, other needs are beginning to appear such as physical care and even accompanying them at the end of their lives.

We want to prepare ourselves to be able to attend to these people who normally, in other institutions, do not know how to attend to them, who go from one place to another because nowhere adapts to them or the institutions cannot adapt to them, and in the end, they end up coming to our centres.
We want to be able to attend to them with the technical quality they need and also without losing sight of our identity of humanisation and of continuing to believe in the possibilities of these people who can also continue to develop a life project and give them meaning in their lives.
We are working on this, these are important challenges, and this will lead us to transform some of our current centres to adapt them to these realities, but also to the need to open new services and to be able to generate new activities that can also meet these new needs.

Can you provide a concrete example of how Hospitality plays a key role in your team’s daily work and patient care?

First of all, if you ask me about the team, what I would love to do would be to recognise the people who work here in hospitality with us. I truly believe, and I experience it this way, that we have wonderful people, people who really vibrate with hospitality, people who put the people they serve first, despite the difficulties of the day to day. I think it is exceptional and I know other entities, other companies and I think that this is a luxury that we have and that we also have to learn to take great care of. I think that hospitality also leads us to be aware of human fragility and also of the professionals who look after people with vulnerability and all the teams, even if we are not working directly with the people we look after. What this fragility has to make us realise is that obviously there are moments of crisis, moments when we cannot go on, moments when there are discussions, moments when there is debate, but there is certainly something much deeper.

We have to learn to listen to each other, to dialogue, we have to know that in the end we are all united by the same thing and that despite different ideas, despite different ways of understanding, we all want the best. The issue of caring for professionals is also one of the points that I think will be central in the coming years and that, well, we all have to work together to look after ourselves, to look after the people in front of us, and so we all have to look after each other.