A fable for our times

What we're readingHealth professionals, like legal service providers and community agencies, must often explain complex and life-altering concepts to the people they serve within very limited time constraints. And, as a recent discussion paper written in the style of a fable points out, this can be very challenging.

Do you provide legal information or advice to vulnerable Ontarians? If so, you may find parallels to your own work in this fable.

One example: “Given the increased demands for care and to save time, health professionals developed a way of speaking that was unique to their profession, but no one else understood them. What was once health care now became sick care. The jargon and medical terminology protected health workers from spending time with the patients they barely knew or had enough time to diagnose, let alone treat. Some people became fearful of medicine and the health care system, refusing to seek care until it was too late.”

But the use of jargon, important as that is to avoid, is by no means the only problem in the fictional town described in this thought-provoking fable. The fable describes a bleak landscape of societal fears resulting in overburdened health care systems and poor health for the most vulnerable citizens. However, like many fables, it ends with a positive message – specifically, that increased health literacy is the key to a happy and healthy future.

Clear communication, of course, is also a very important factor in promoting positive outcomes to legal problems. If you were to write a fable about your work in the legal or community sectors, what other key messages would you end with to inspire positive change?


  1. Author: John Smith

    on October 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Hogwash to the fable. The experience with our mental health and addiction agency is that people with lived experience are very much increasing their ability to find, understand, evaluate, communicate and use information to make informed decisions about their life. Their first hand experience in peer supports demonstrates their ability to not just help themselves but also to be of service to others.

  2. Author: admin

    on October 28, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

    John, thanks for this comment – it’s a very important point. We’d be happy to learn more about the types of peer supports developed by the people your agency works with.

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