Compassion in Practice is the new three year vision and strategy for nursing, midwifery and care staff drawn up by Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England (CNO) at the NHS Commissioning Board, and Viv Bennett, Director of Nursing at the Department of Health.
So following its launch in 2012, we have observed our students and staff putting compassionate care into practice. We wanted to share our top 5 tips towards achieving compassion in the NHS:
Tip One: Show compassion towards yourself. You cannot provide optimal care without caring for yourself. Be kind to yourself, you deserve breaks, good nutrition, rest and hydration. You deserve to be treated with compassion in the work place. You are entitled to a psychologically safe professional journey.
Tip Two: Show compassion towards your colleagues. They also deserve what you deserve. Be kind to each other. Avoid punitive blaming, naming and shaming cultures. Stand up for candour, open discussion and learning. Remember that the majority of people work in the NHS to achieve good things. There is always room to grow, improve and learn.
Tip Three: Extend the #HelloMyNameIS principle to all staff, patients and colleagues. Introduce yourself! To new colleagues, students, patients and those around you, in all forms of communication.
Tip Four: Patients also have a name. Humanise the care you are giving. Referring to those in your care as "Patient A", "The lady in room 4", or "Bed 7" may not give you, or other people the opportunity to empathise with patients compassionately.
Tip Five: Actively look for opportunities to offer kindness every day. Take notice of these encounters. Praise others for seizing them. Teach them to others. Observe them. Switch Shoes.
Remember that compassion is not the same as pity. Pity creates distance. Compassion means that you are equal with others in feeling the same things. Pity implies that we are superior, we are not. We must let compassion connect us within the NHS, not distance us. If we can galvanize a culture of compassion, then every encounter within the NHS may become easier and more harmonious. Surely this is what everyone would want?
We invite you to share your experiences of offering or receiving compassion: