Compassion is one of our few infinite resources

Nurse, child and mother

Dean Royles shares his thoughts on compassion and patient care.

This week is our Compassion In Practice week. During the week, we will highlight the importance of a positive staff experience to patient care. But don't get me wrong, the week isn't some corporate attempt to try to highlight how important compassion is to great patient care. We know that. I see it day in and day out. You see it hour in and hour out and out there every minute some of our patients experience it.

I know the media has covered compassion a lot this last year and you could be forgiven for thinking that compassion is a new discovery, that what the NHS has been missing is more compassionate staff. And I know that some people have had terrible experience where compassion has been missing, but that is not the norm. In fact when I announced the week of action on twitter some wag said that highlighting a week of compassion for NHS was like highlighting the importance of learning to teachers - and I take the point.

In fact I know that where we have so many finite resources like finite funding and finite numbers of staff, that the one infinite resource we have is compassion, like love, compassion is something you can't run out of. But I know that we don't always get the environment right in which staff feel supported and at the extremes, it's not that people get compassion fatigue it's that they can feel unvalued and burned out.  And although managers may have limited influence on issues like more funding and pay they do know that to deliver compassionate care staff need to have a positive experience of work and that is something we can all influence. This applies to all NHS staff including those in training and on placement, new starters,  as well as those already in employment.

The evidence is strong. Really strong. If it was a drug, NICE would approve it. It shows a direct link between staff experience and good quality patient care – so one of the things we are doing is  pulling this research together for you and will publish it soon, but in advance of that, our first podcast on Tuesday this week will be one outlining that evidence evidence in an easy to digest format.

The research also shows that working in teams is an indicator of a positive staff experience and influences our ability to deliver high quality care and so we have another podcast on Wednesday which focusses on the way team work can impact on compassionate care. At the end of the week, we will be showcasing positive staff experience and compassionate care using video clips and compassion in action quotes from Care Makers.

A key part of creating a positive staff experience is listening and engaging with staff, so we’ll also be hosting a twitter chat with We nurses @wenurses on Thursday evening to give you the chance to share your positive staff experiences and more importantly tell us how this helps you deliver better care for patients.

We will be delivering more support, toolkits, guides, advice and information over the next few months – this includes, support for staff in raising concerns, best practice in providing a positive experience for students and clinical placements and  highlighting the impact the nurse supervisor role has had on staff experience.

Compassion can be innate and it can be taught and learned. It can be central to who we are and what we stand for, but far more importantly in can come in small doses and those small things can make a huge experience to way people experience care. That positive experience can also help build and values us, it is a truly virtual circle of good.

Just have a look at this short video about the #hellomynameis campaign to get a sense if what I may mean. I challenge you not to be moved by it. Small thing, big impact... compassion is so close to love and this video captures it brilliantly.

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