Guest Blog: Compassion – a MARLARKEY or a CASE FOR CHANGE?

Maxine 2014This is a guest blog from my friend and colleague Maxine Craig who is Head of Organisation Development at South Tees NHS Trust and visiting Professor ( Sunderland University).

Maxine can be found on Twitter on @Maxine_craig and she would welcome conversations about this blog.

Maxine’s blog speaks for itself – so here it is:

This week whilst at a training event in the coffee break a lady approached me and asked me “Was I Maxine Craig who is part of this ‘NHS Compassion Malarkey’? ” – now this has hit a nerve!

Maxine nursing

I have worked in the NHS since I was 17 and this ‘malarkey’ has been my life for 33 years. Ensuring patients get the best we can give and staff are well and healthy is my purpose. It’s no malarkey!


This is what a malarkey is:


I believe there is a compelling case for change in the delivery of care; the latest Panorama programme surely reinforces that? – Yet I sense that a back lash about compassion is building.

For the past year I have been making myself available to help people think about the issues we face, making spaces where people can think more deeply about compassion in our lives. And I am learning that everyone I speak to in the NHS, social care and wider society recognises that something about it needs fixing. Everyone appears to have a perspective on the general lack of compassion in the wider world and that the NHS needs to ‘do’ compassion better.

elderly lady

This is a real puzzle for me. I work in a great organisation and I witness compassion every day, in abundance, and I see situations where compassion in lacking; It’s not as clear cut as the media would have everyone think. I am worried that being compassionate is becoming an industry in our health and social care settings, others also express this view and some are becoming cynical of anything with a compassion label. I would like us to pick out and continue the genuine good work.

In all of my learning I have found that people find talking about compassion rather uncomfortable. Yes, everyone has an opinion, a surface view. Some people have been deeply affected by a positive experience of compassion in their lives and some hurt by a gap in compassion. Everyone who comes to talk about compassion has some interest, and I have noticed that many have some degree of discomfort.

angry womanI think this is because it’s about all of us, not just the bad guys who don’t do it! It has the potential to make us feel guilty, uncomfortable about our personal struggles and challenges.

At a system level the NHS voices that it wishes to improve compassion but it continues to work in a non-compassionate way and I suspect the care sector is the same. This is a paradox. I do not believe this is a ‘problem’ that needs to be solved but see it as more of a societal context, leaving me as an OD practitioner with a complex and sometimes frustrating dynamic to work in. So I am working to explore and practice the ‘HOW’ of increasing compassion in our system – I want to get on and DO something about it not just talk about it!

The NHS is deeply evidence based. In some parts this might be more espoused theory than theory in use, but it is an important guiding principle. We also wear the cloak of evidence as a defence. Another important fact is that many professionals and managers (and I include myself in this group), actually were professionally socialised at a point in time when the control of emotions and ‘not getting emotionally involved with the patient’ were prized professional competences. The new world of the psychology of work offers a different view, with burn out, compassion fatigue and emotional labour as key and important phenomenon. It is important we remember the shift which has occurred within one generation. As a result of this shift the current reality of the compassionate intervention is very challenging for some.

the compassionate mindSo I have learned that the very best way into these conversations about compassion and the psychology of work and caring is via the science. The work of Paul Gilbert who established the Compassionate Mind foundation gives us the basis of the neuroscience of emotion (you can read more here) and I have been able to link this to stress in life and wider society.

Tree huggingI have witnessed the relief in people when they come to talk about compassion and are met with the evidence base. It welcomes them in, it is a context they know, it allows them to be open to the practice of compassion. When coming to a talk about compassion people have shared with me that they were worried it would be too soft and fluffy. When I have explored what this means some people say they don’t want ‘new age’ or religious or spiritual. So like all good change agents let’s start where people are at – let’s start with the science!change agent

Compassion is no malarkey; it’s vital and too important to be pushed aside because it makes us uncomfortable.

I am DIGGING IN for the long haul on this one – I want to make sure the NHS and care system is good enough for my dad. Will you join me?

Maxine's Dad

40 thoughts on “Guest Blog: Compassion – a MARLARKEY or a CASE FOR CHANGE?

  1. A great blog on such an important word Maxine, thank you.

    As you say, we hear much about compassion fatigue; it sounds like the lady you met was fatigued just hearing the word. It’s concerning that such a prized value can become overworked and somehow tarnished in this way. I confess to having a fleeting moment like that, when I heard the ‘C’ word (well, lack of C) used on the Today programme in the manner of a sweeping generalisation about healthcare workers.

    I took an online course last year which could greatly assist your mission- It builds on your link to the neuroscience behind what compassion does to/ for us as humans; it’s free on Coursera, called ‘Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence’. The central method is to teach us coaching for compassion. Theory & practical too.

    It gets my recommendation. It demonstrates in a tangible way how to recover from burnout and become compassionate, inspiring leaders and/or inspired compassionate followers.

    All power to you Maxine in inspiring us to build compassion-capital in our colleagues, teams & ourselves.

  2. I agree with what you say but my frustration with the current rhetoric is that it is focused on individual motivation. Whilst this necessary it is not sufficient. There is also a large evidence base on the conditions that impeded motivated individuals to behave compassionately. And in the end I am more interested in carers’ behaviours than their values.
    Until this is addressed, I will remain sceptical about the current paradigm

  3. An interesting blog with much food for thought. I rate compassion as my number one value in working with education and early learning and childcare. I had an initial ‘double-take’ when I heard some time ago that NHS were ‘doing courses in compassion’ and my reaction made me realise that I had ‘assumed’ compassion in healthcare and particularly working with dementia patients mentioned in the article I read. On reflection, I realised how important it is to be explicit about the fundamental requirement for compassion in any relationship of caring. Occasionally I deal with school issues that have arisen from a lack of compassion from teacher to young person…or teacher to teacher. So ‘power to your elbow’ and keep working to avoid this work becoming trite or a disposition or value to be ‘delivered’ in evidence- based sessions and ‘enacted’ and measured like a ‘HEAT target’.
    Interestingly, I am bemused by views that compassion is ‘new age’ or ‘religious or spiritual’. To me compassion is not ‘fluffy’. It sets a high bar on our actions based on understandings that, while to an extent intuitive, are also based on hard knowledge, challenging experiences and extensive data in specific areas. People get confused between empathy and sympathy and the notion of compassion sits within this paradigm. Your approach, Maxine, in breaking through this wall of misunderstanding and discomfort with neurological evidence is masterful and reminded me of Sir Harry Burns’ ‘science of a cuddle’!

  4. You’ve inspired me to write about compassion in midwifery – years ago I was told I’d have to stop “mollycoddling” the people I care for – my reply was that my compassion was rooted into me during my time caring for my mother who died at home when I was 18 years old . A friend who was a nurse recognised my compassion and advised me to enter nursing.
    I’d given up my ceramics course at Uni to support my family through my mums last few weeks and in those days you didn’t defer . I have never ever changed the way I see the person I care for and I never will . Through my 35 years in the NHS there have been many developments and changes but my core values have stayed the same . Thank you so much for a beautiful article xxxx

  5. Wow, Maxine there is some great stuff in this blog, and it has taught me so much. You obviously so know your stuff. I would love to meet you.

    I would like to reply and not beat around the bush. So here goes … I might be a little clumsy.

    I see you as being so close and so passionate. It makes me think it might freak people out. It freaks me out a bit. Because I feel you striving so hard. You are so committed to your cause.

    Is that fair?

    I need to object to a few things. One is the thing I see with language between corporate and clinical. I do it myself. Compassion is hitting people in the face left right and centre. And I see people being turned off. Completely. The Malarkey bit? I remember when 6Cs was launched – and it spoke to some people immediately. For others it seemed like a marketing bollox that they had no ownership of (despite it’s origins). Some of the words, especially “compassion” grated on them. It angered some. It seemed like an intellectual word that alienated them. It confused some.

    So, for those who got it… they now feel like the horse is being flogged.

    And for those who didn’t, or still don’t they are feeling like you are dragging them and trying to cerjole and influence and drag and … there are doubts over your intentions. I think this is where the question came from …

    So if I had any advice, as a mentor. I would say:

    Be plain with your language. Say what you mean. If compassion doesn’t ring true what is the meaning behind it. Open up the discussion and don’t see simplification as dumbing down. What is the common language? Don’t throw stones, skim them. Let’s not start a fight with polarised views when really we have the same / shared target and we are on the same side.

    I’m not sure. I’m just throwing things at you to see if any of them fit. Maybe some will?

    Finally a question for you …

    Have you ever seen undercover boss?

  6. Maxine , as ever thank you for your insights and wisdom and ability to get to he heart of the matter. Thank you for inviting my thoughts. What follows is from my heart and very much my personal ramblings and reflections……I started my nurse training in 1979. Since leaving the NHS in 1991, I have worked in Adult Social Care in the Independent Sector. What motivated me then still motivates me today. I am passionate about people and their potential and passionate about quality. I care deeply and have always tried to see the person not the label or the illness. Everything we do with another human being is based I believe on relationship. The American poet Maya Angelou says ” people will forget what you did, they will forget what you say but they will never forget the way you made them feel”. A good practitioner be it in nursing or other professions allied to medicine need to be clinically and professionally competent but that is the ‘what’ now for the ‘how’……compassion is no malarkey…it underpins everything we do…how we live breath and have our being. Without being caring and compassionate I could function but I believe my life and the lives of others would be poorer for it. An older gentleman living in a care home recently said to me “staff need to be trained but please do not train the heart out of them”. Life experience shapes and forms how we behave. I realise that looking at previous responses to your blog that I have spoken about my individual motivation. I’d like to think that my values and beliefs are aligned and that the changes I make as a leader and the way I live out those values will continue to bring about change. Compassion I believe needs to be spoken about because it is not about them ( the people we care for and walk with ) but about us. I too am concerned that an industry will be made out of compassion. Is it really too difficult to make space to talk about how people feel and to use what we know to inform and shape how we care for each other? Change starts with me and the choices I make. I recently blogged on this it can we seen at the National Care Forum website….still getting to grips with making the links etc( sorry Annie ). I could keep on rambling and not sure it would help. Thank you Maxine for the work you are doing.

  7. Thanks for this post Maxine (and Annie C for hosting it); there are a lot of things in this post worthy of comment and I’m not sure I’m going to add a lot to the discussion but here’s my thoughts…. like vonniemc I always feel that there is something double-take’ish about the notion carers need to be reminded/helped to be compassionate. One explanation you’re obviously keyed in to is the generational change around professionalism, one that I hope has been helped by social media being used as a platform for people to share their real selves, alongside their professional selves. That said if you look at the recent Panorama, or the Winterbourne View one a number of years ago, there were many people working in those environments who were much newer into care work and I think we have to ask what organisational cultures they are operating in – is it about care and compassion, or is it about money and efficiency, and can it be about both?

    For what it’s worth I think the best care, the best employers, employees and the best patients are those who are authentic to themselves and who recognise the limitations of that. We all have good days and bad days when it comes to compassion, like patience, or punctuality or any other attribute – perhaps the mass movements are in some way taking away from people’s autonomy to manage themselves. I don’t know, but until you feel that care is good enough for your Dad I reckon you’re investing your energies in the right place.

  8. Lovely blog Maxine, this is a subject I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to. You articulate really nicely, some of the cultural risks around compassion but more importantly, I love how you are hitting this head on with a practical approach to engage people in a more meaningful way.

  9. Thank you to you all. I am rather overwhelmed by the response, but grateful for people’s thoughts. I will try to put something coherent here as a response.

    To swelldiabetes thank you for the resources and the ideas of compassion capital it is not something I had thought about ( but will now).

    Elaine , I there is a lot about this which is about individuals and small groups ( I think ) and for me this fits with the complex adaptive system work and also all the work on social movements. I think because we find ourselves here – with people struggling to understand what we have to do to raise our game for the public, I think it shows system level interventions might have unintended consequences ? I think we need to keep going, dig in , do what we can locally share , spread our learning. Try and shield our people from the political of compassion and get on with the real work, improving things. I am aware of all the research about the links between our values and attitudes and our behaviour , my own view ( which is not the only one) is that they are inextricably linked.

    Vonniemc , I have been thinking along the same lines . I am exploring kindness, empathy, compassion , inter related but not the same and often misunderstood. This is a debate I am now going to work with in my work to see what I learn. I love the idea of ‘breaking through the wall of misunderstanding’ can I use it if I attribute it to you ?. please let me know.

    Jennythem . I love your story thank you. I was once described as a kangaroo leaders ( several years ago) and the person was not being kind ! when I explored this with them, he told me that I put all my joeys in my pouch when they are in trouble ! and you know what … I do , and I will keep on doing so , but I also ensure they grow into great Kangaroos. Look after your people, the research is clear people want to be led by emotionally available leaders ( have a look at the Real World Group research )

    Kateoflinkstock . Thank you , committed yes since I was 17. I am not so interested in the language everyone is using , but I am really interested in how it is being understood , the discourse is important , the stories we tell are vital. I haven seen undercover boss , should I ?

    I hope we can all find some simple inexpensive way to improve things each in our own way and I think the thing everyone agrees with is that everyone can be kinder if they choose to be.

  10. George Julian and Mandy , thank you also . The issue of culture is central here with people talking about cultural interventions as if the system is a closed experiment . This mindset leads to disappointment in my experience as the system is a complex adaptive one and culture is nudged and shaped not dictated. I am digging in to get stuff done, where I can , how I can, with people who want to .

  11. Interesting. I’ll leave my initial thoughts with you.

    I hope you will delve into Undercover Boss – it is a TV show on Channel 4. There is something about how people can be referential to those who hold power. And something about really getting under the skin of the business at grass roots level. It usually make me cry and is probably editied and directed to the hilt. Who knows – tv is a thing unto it’s own. Have a lovely Sunday and many thanks for the brain fodder.

  12. The themes emerging from discussion so far :

    The Language we ( people ) are using is turning people off. The use of jargon and buzz words is limiting what people want to pay attention to.

    The need for good evaluation of interventions which purport to increase compassion at what ever level.

    The idea that this is difficult because it makes us face our own behaviour and we fear we don’t measure up.

    suggestions that lack of compassion is being used to ‘beat people up’

  13. Thank you for this blog Maxine – some great thoughts that have triggered interesting responses and discussion. I’m studying this too, and have been interested in the variety of ways in which compassion is (mis)understood – seems to me that at the core is the idea that in order to respond compassionately to someone it is essential that you recognise in that person the presence of suffering. I think this is key; for various reasons, some folk are better at seeing suffering than others. I think a lot is to do with individual coping and defences, but what is really interesting is that ever since Aristotle this idea has centred on the importance that in order to feel compassion you must be able to relate to the other person’s experience; that is, to imagine a situation in which you or someone you love might find themselves in a similar place. If this core feature is not present then compassion cannot be either.

    I also note you cited Gilbert’s book which is really important, accessible and wise. I wonder whether you think there is a role for mindfulness training in nursing, in terms of enabling people to access their present-moment experiences. I don’t mean stress-relief tokenistic chill-out sessions, but bespoke mindfulness practice enabling nurses in a safe environment to allow their defences (blocking, denial etc) to become apparent and enable deeper connection with patients.

    I also think the world of compassion fatigue / burnout / rust-out is relevant and the notion that you can be too compassionate persists throughout nurses’ training and careers. I still hear it from my students.

    It would be good to connect and share resources and ideas – thank you so much for writing, and I hope you “guest blog” again – or set up your own?


  14. Love all the contributions and the evidence base to underpin what and how we do what we do. It is up close and personal but also professional. How we help people understand, develop and implement / create the right culture for change so that values and beliefs which embody compassion, which are intrinsically linked are lived and breathed and make a difference to those we interact with on a daily basis. Maxine your wisdom and eloquence are to be admired. Thank you again for the impact you are having on a daily basis. Thank you for being real.

  15. Interesting blog, as a nurse & as a Caremaker I am deeply passionate about compassionate care. Your blog reminds me of when I started talking about the importance of the 6cs and compassionate care 18 months ago and a nurse asked me what it was that I (as a student at the time) could teach her (someone with 30 years experience) about being compassionate…and there we have it I think we don’t do enough in nursing to be compassionate to each other. Staff need need to be inspired, engaged, supported and feel like they are listened to, I feel this is evidently not happening day to day. I think there is room in nursing for more de-briefs, a chance for real reflection. I think George Julian makes some really great point especially regarding us understanding our own limitations, how often do we get to explore this is a safe constructive manner. In two weeks time I am participating in my first Schwartz round – I’m interested to see how this will help me and others dissect some of my own experiences as a newly qualified nurse to date. Also love the comment above about finding ways to become either inspiring compassionate leaders or inspired compassionate followers…it is definitely about the collective as much as it is about the individual. I am just about to start a small research project around compassionate care, thanks for getting me thinking and for the recommend reads. Great to read all the comments above too…maybe you should start your own blog? 🙂

  16. Thanks Maxine & Annie this is really interesting. Really like the blog. I kind of understand where the “Marlarky” comment came from. I read an interesting problem from a nursing student recently-she was very shy and could not effusively emote-although she cared for her patient deeply she feared not being seen as compassionate. The expression of kindness IS I believe, something we hone (or at least those of us who are introverts) as we progress on our journey. We might be born with compassionate souls but some people need help to express that.
    I have worked in cancer for many years mostly the palliative specialism of lung cancer. I have tried to express loving kindness to everyone I have worked with (patients, colleagues and students) as to me compassion is a very deep and personal thing. It is expressed through loving kindness.

    I am no expert in academic psychology (my science background is a little more bio-physics) but the market concerns me. Now I see “compassion solutions” that can be bought off the shelf and how clinical staff are to be “evaluated in compassion”. It cuts to the very heart of the spiritual being-not in a religious way (although it might for others) but in terms of the value of our humanity.
    I never engage in the compassion debates ie on Twitter-they often seem base and for me hard to relate to. Well done for expressing this issue in a meaningful way.

  17. I read this blog with a smile because I am fortunate enough to have worked with and learnt from Maxine. I have been able to use so much of this “compassion malarkey” in my role to talk about how we need to care for ourselves and others and this in turn will boost wellbeing. I believe this naturally leads to compassionate and kind care. I see staff of all levels not being compassionate to each other so I always demonstrate kindness when dealing with colleagues in the hope they will follow me. If it’s colleagues not showing compassion / kindness to patients then I challenge that. Sometimes verbally but often by example. As a nurse I signed up for that didn’t I??? I registered to provide the best possible Care for my patients. If I don’t challenge people who are missing out the compassion bit then I am at fault too. Just my personal opinion. I think we are sometimes in culture where we accept unkind care. Not on my watch! I embrace anything that raises awareness of how to care about people. I co ordinate 205 therapeutic volunteers and they get compassion and kindness through every element of their training. They go out onto wards and boy do they do compassion and kindness. They are soon to be involved in a compassion circle. They will share how they view compassionate care and I pretty sure they will talk about treating patients and each other like you treat someone you love and respect in your life. I think getting hung up on a word or phrase shows a lack of understanding or a resistance to accept that some people have to work at being nice. Thanks Maxine I love that you find us the “brainy data bit” to help us promote COMPASSION in every aspect of our day 🙂

  18. Thank you to everyone . WE are raising important issues here which need to be heard. I will come back to each of you with specifics

  19. Thank you for taking the time to say what you have said. I was blown away when I met my first caremaker in our patch. I know that our NHS is great hands .

  20. Allie the NON SCIENCE of evaluating nurses and others compassion leaves me cold. But I do think we need an important debate about how do we recognise it . I am firmly coming to the conclusion that increasing kindness is a great first step, and I feel some of the debate here is right on the mark, some people don’t see an opportunity to be compassionate. Its a personal thing. Some of the reading I have been doing recently is about kindness as a virtue. Anyway the debate is wonderful but we must crack on , who are you digging in for ?

  21. Debi: thank you for taking the time to come here and leave this kind comment. I appreciate that YOU and those like you in our great organisation take away this work and apply it day in day out , people like me are the catalysts . Its always a pleasure to work with you.

  22. Reblogged this on fabcoach and commented:
    I attended a Paul Gilbert training event on Compassion theory and it was the most user friendly , sensible , useful and moving course . All backed up by research . Recommended .

  23. My family have experienced real distress by the deliberate actions of a senior health professional. That upset and pain is ongoing yet we see the same person publicly espouse compassion. Sadly in this instance malarkey is a perfect description of their use of the word.

  24. Excellent post, Maxine, and timely. My thoughts, for what they are worth….

    Firstly, context. I am not a health professional, although as an Organisational Development and change practitioner, I have worked with and in the NHS in recent years, delivering programmes aimed at improving workplace relationships. And by way of disclosure, Maxine and I have met, originally at an event that may have been deemed ‘fluffy’ (whatever that means) by some, and I have worked with people who are active in supporting organisations to become more compassionate. So to my point:

    As someone who is an NHS outsider and OD practitioner, my voice & perspective is maybe a little different to those from within the system. I confess I get a knee jerk reaction to people who complain about words like compassion/kindness etc. If not them, then what?…. It smacks to me of deflection, and a complaint about WHO is using the words, and HOW, and less about the concepts themselves. As a patient or someone in care, I would not want someone to be farting around over the semantics of which word is more or less fluffy, I wish them to BE it, DO it, not THINK it and worry if it is a bit too new age-y. I live in Brighton, so I trip over new age stuff on the way to the corner shop. And yes it can ‘can get a bit much’ for me linguistically. When it does, I go fishing for intention. That counts more, for me.

    Do some people talk bollocks about compassion? Sure, they do in other spaces as well. I was at an OD conference last week, and I glazed over a few times (as did a few people when I was talking probably) as we all got into the rhetoric and cleverness of our practice.

    Are some people’s actions mis-aligned with their intentions? Sure. What is important here is the overall pattern and movement either towards more or less of something, and whilst I agree language is important, what is the question we are seeking to answer? I hear Maxine as asking: How do we achieve more consistently compassionate care? I would add something around: how do we achieve more visibly – and embodied – compassionate leadership? And I find myself drawn back to these words in Maxine’s post:

    “Compassion is no malarkey; it’s vital and too important to be pushed aside because it makes us uncomfortable.”

  25. There is so much wrong with the modern NHS (as opposed to the original concept of universal health care) that it is hard to know where to start. I don’t understand why anyone who lacks compassion would go into nursing in the first place. Consultants and surgeons – it doesn’t really matter; you just want to know they’re the best at cutting you open, taking out the bad bits and putting you back together. But at the cutting edge of ‘care’ a lack of compassion – or, indeed, a presence of socio- or psychopathic tendencies – is fatal to our faith in the whole edifice. One problem is, you can’t have this debate without everyone going on the defensive. Until we acknowledge there are major problems – not to mention limits to what we can afford – in our healthcare, it will only get worse. That is the law of unintended consequences at work. No-one intends it to get worse; it just does.

  26. Hello Lesley how awful. It makes my blood boil, there are so many people in the service trying hard to get it right and better for patients. Experiences like yours set us back. It makes me more determined to focus on what we can do better. The whole notion of non compassion is interesting and we really do need to help people understand that this is the heart of healthcare . Thank you for taking the time to post here.

  27. Laura … thoughts on this bit of your post …
    ever since Aristotle this idea has centred on the importance that in order to feel compassion you must be able to relate to the other person’s experience; that is, to imagine a situation in which you or someone you love might find themselves in a similar place. If this core feature is not present then compassion cannot be either

    I agree and this becoming more central to my thinking . I was discussing this yesterday with some people who don’t view themselves as compassionate. They are not beating themselves up or being a victim they are people dear to me who tell me they just don’t get this compassion thing. So we talked about kindness , now they get kindness, not the words the actions ! , they are kind and I can vouch for them on that. But I also agree with them that they are not compassionate, We ended up having a really interesting discussion about the opportunities to be compassionate – ie be compelled into making things better. These people told me they don’t see the opportunity for compassion , I think this is really important and I am thinking deeply about it.

    Talking to our CEO today we discussed how we want our organisation to be a beacon in this area to show how to get this right all the time ( well that would be our aim) but we are going to have to think about kindness to I think . I would love to chat more . Please email me at

  28. Allie , you raise important issues here about how we ‘see’ compassion , and I spend a lot of time with introverted leaders. They are often judged harshly on a range of things I find, but I had not thought about this debate in relation to the externalisation of the behaviours of compassion.

  29. Steve , hello here and thank you for the post . I think you sum it up twice in your post ‘fluffy’ is in the eye of the beholder. All good OD practitioners work from the premise you enter into the clients system where they are ready to let you in , if its science its science , if its fluff its fluff … this week I have the beginnings of a piece of work with faith groups in our organisation on compassion, The key is we get to the DOING making the place better for patients and staff, Because happy , well vibrant staff give better care.

    Secondly you bring us back to my dad ( whose name is Ray) , Ray wouldn’t like them farting around but when he is poorly and in our NHS he does want us to DO and BE compassionate and kind,

    thank you

  30. Paulmarkphillips .. oh you touch another nerve for me ( but Annie I promise I will not impose on your blog much longer ) we have to get to a national HONEST debate about what is affordable . the Kings Fund are telling us there is not enough money and we certainly feel it. But we have to find some way forward , we all have our own views mine is that cost – quality – access always inextricably linked and the political system can stick its head in the sand all it likes but that remains true . BUT in the meantime we have to get on at a local level and ensure we care for our people better. I am really interested in the research around kindness that it makes the doer feel better , something about focusing on kindness too. thank you for taking the time to post here

  31. Thanks Maxine. I am a nurse too. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about your Dad.If we look after our patients the way we would hope a loved family member is cared for, we should be getting it right. Surely that is innate. But it’s hard to get it right all the time if wards are understaffed, it doesn’t always mean lack of compassion but less opportunity to be as compassionate as we want to be.

  32. Hi Thanks for this fascinating blog Maxine and the interesting comments posted
    I trained as an OT and latterly have worked in management for a long time clocking up 30 plus years now
    Like you I don’t understand where compassion has gone, I think I chose my career in part to to ensure I used this part of my personality This all echoes for me the continued move to more and more academic training and less hands on that I have witnessed over the years compassion should not be taught on courses but in action in my view
    Over the years I have been both congratulated for and berated for my compassion at work and at home ( I’ m a kangaroo too and proud of it now ) , at times this has led me to question my practice at work as a clinician and manager, and wonder if I am getting over involved in both staff and patient care, but when I have reflected and looked at the outcomes I know I did right for them and that being true to myself is the best for me and them When I’ m being my best I am compassionate
    Ditto I was recently advised by a friend that I has done far too much for another friend and their family in a very sad time for them ( the friend was in fairness was worried about the effect on my wellbeing), again this made me question my actions why was I doing it for myself or ? I concluded I did it because they needed it, I could, I wanted to and I’m good at helping others
    Much of this is innate as much as learnt on the job and I do worry about training for it , hopefully it will remind staff and bring it out in those who have that inner core , but also root out those who do not operate this way – nothing wrong with that we are all different but then they need to be in another field
    Your blog has reminded me why I do what I do what I do and I will continue to support others in all areas of life to do what they can too

  33. Thank you ..

    Lesley58 , I agree and thank you for taking the time to read this blog, which was generated out of getting ‘my knickers in a knot’ about something I believe to be too important , for people to shy away from.

    Jayne Phoenix, thank you to . We had a fantastic programme last week in our trust called compassionate leaders ( facilitated by http://www.frameworks4change) just excellent. It has a lot of stuff in it about self care and self compassion and practices for both. Interesting some people may view this work as the fluffy stuff. I do not . However we enter this work ( as OD practitioners ) whether it is via the science , the spiritual or the faith based entry we are learning that we ALWYAS end up helping staff focus upon their own self care and being kind to themselves . But how people come to this is their journey. Another OD practitioner said to me recently , when I wasn’t very well – Maxine you first have to fit your own oxygen mask ( A William Bridges quote) and It is correct. It doesn’t not matter if you are a unpaid carer caring for a family member or a person fortunate enough to get a salary for caring , self care is vital if you want to give great care. Thank you for you thoughts here.

  34. Guest Blog: Compassion – a MARLARKEY or a...

  35. Maxine and all who have commented

    Such a rich exchange, thank you.

    We will continue to stand for compassion because we see this uniting human value as the spirit of healthcare – a kind of expression for our virtues as human beings.

    Residents in a care home have been embracing the ‘compassion circle’ and have begun to explore virtues – they have decided they want to explore tolerance, patience and wisdom.

    Our nature is to be compassionate towards each other – this is how we survive – the question for me is whether the spaces and places we live and work allow us to show up at our most human.

    The leaders we were priveliged to spend two days with last week were ordinary people with unlimited capacity for compassion – thank you for the space you create at South Tees.

    Digging in with you.

    The NHS needs Beacons of real grounded ordinary unlimited compassion because when you are scared, traumatised, in pain, losing a sense of your wholeness you could really use a connection with someone who is being their compassionate self.


  36. A blogger’s farewell | Mary Agnew

  37. Andy, thank you. This week the staff you worked with have been inspired to take their personal learning into their own work and into their departments and teams. Our work to build a community of kindness and compassion in our organisation, at a time of real challenge is underway. We are digging in for the people we serve.

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