A Personal Experience - Compassionate Care

I am writing this blog, not from my desk but from a hospital ward as I have been a regular carer over the last two weeks in two different NHS hospitals – one for my son and one for my father. In the main the care has been very good, and in some parts excellent. In those areas where compassion and skills were lacking, this was nearly always temporary until the next shift arrived with the promise of even better care (mostly). I have used the words compassion and skills separately: I was a recipient and an observer to both but not always ‘both’ from the same individual or the same place.
I wondered how in the same hospital one ward could provide excellent care but one floor below another ward was clearly struggling with a lack of resources, skills etc. Was this perhaps the result of the environment where the leader or manager, team, practices, processes, beliefs or the lack of organisation values affected the lack of compassionate behaviour?
At an away day (in between hospital visits) there was a presentation from a very successful SME but I found it difficult at that time to understand the parallels of a small company with the enormity of the NHS. On reflection, however, I realized that what they considered as their cultural fabric – rigour and simplicity, building capability, and empowerment – could and should be applied to the NHS. Perhaps this is the secret to those wards and teams that have got it right.
We know that culture is hard to define and even harder to change but having a clear vision, mission and aims is a start.
A recent report1 has suggested that patient and staff experience are closely linked, and that positive experiences for both are unlikely happen to one without the other. The report stated that organisations should:
   Listen to firsthand experiences
   Define and clearly articulate values in behavioural terms
   Connect the organisational strategy with individual goals and objectives which hold people to account on their values
   Signal what is valued and retain your best people.
I would also add that we should be looking at the patient journey and where we make a difference. Progress is being made but perhaps we need more rigour and simplicity.
How do you replicate excellence in your workplaces?
What is your cultural fabric and how do you define it to improve your patient and staff experience?
Kelly Abel, Head of Workforce for the Cancer Programme at Guy's and St Thomas's Foundation NHS Trust

1. Bronagh Scott, Guardian Healthcare, 25/08/15

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