nurses should be mindful nurses – by focusing attention on patient’s
problem. As a result, the nurse will be
able to help the patient physically, psychologically, emotionally and
spiritually. ‘Nurses should be aware
that compassion is an anecdote, its presence or absence often leave lasting and
vivid memories on the mind of the patients and their family members’ (Cornwell and
Goodrich 2009, p. 7). Genuine compassionate care is not just a non-quantifiable
skill that all nurses must possess, but a bedrock of any meaningful and mindful
the need for nurses to understand the importance of compassion in nursing
cannot be over-emphasised. Nurses need to strongly follow the footsteps of
Florence Nightingale, the profession’s ethical foundation, the ethos of
clinical practice and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) Code of Conduct by
not just been very professional but intimately acquainted with details of
patients care. Also, by treating people as individuals and with kindness,
respect and compassion, and uphold their dignity.
is worth noting that nurses might possess the necessary compassion outside the
environment in which patient may be disproved. Therefore, organisations must
provide quality leadership, support and teamwork. They must support their
workforce to facilitate compassionate care by collaborating with patients and
their families/carers as co-facilitators of healing. This will help secure
better outcomes (Cole-king and Gilbert, 2011 p.29).
While educators are seeking ways to develop
caring qualities, Cornwell and Goodrich (2009, p.10) argued that training that
emphasises professional detachment and positions compassion as ‘soft and
fluffing’ may be detrimental to the interpersonal relationships between staff
and patients and to the quality of care delivered. They suggested systematic modelling,
explicit endorsement and support for compassion toward every patient every time
while Griffiths et al., (2012 cited in Terry et al., 2017, p. 2) also suggested
that using role modelling and blended learning such as blogs to accompany
lectures; this seems a rather “academic” response that may fail to reach
compassionate nurse will approach every situation holistically by ensuring care
are tailored to individuals’ needs and circumstances. This will also help build
a good relationship and effective communication with patients. Epstein et al.
(2005) argued that compassion affects the effectiveness of treatment, for
example, research evidence suggests that patients treated by a compassionate
caregiver tend to communicate better and share more information about their
symptoms and concerns, which in turn yields more accurate understanding and
diagnoses. Compassion is an integral component of being a ‘caring’ nurse yet it
is unclear how nurses, or the educators shaping their practice, understand the
nature of ‘caring’ and ‘compassion’ (Terry et al., 2017, p. 1). There are
currently multiple views on what compassion is, and whether it can be taught or
inculcated (Shea, et al, 2014 cited in Bradshaw, 2015).
Compassion underpinned and unified the values
and behaviour outlined in the 6Cs of nursing practice and for this reason, it
is important for nurses to develop these values in a way that is relevant to
the place they work. ‘The values that entail an active response to suffering,
distress or discomfort that can be associated with people seeking health-related
support or treatment’ (Tierney et al., 2017, p.1). Nurses should nurture
compassion by encompassing empathy, respect and intuition particularly or
especially when announcing bad news to a patient. They should put themselves in
the patients’ place and feel their emotion, have the internal strength and
courage to care about others’ situations. Compassionate nurses should never
stereotype but appreciate difference and uniqueness of individual (Cornwell
& Goodrich 2009, p. 8).
compassion is also important in nursing particularly in a holistic approach in
the sense that it will make patient feels that his/her condition and concern
are being heard, recognised and acted upon which in turn boost satisfaction and
produce the best possible outcome (recovery and ability to heal). Satisfaction
and unique experience can only be guaranteed if nurses approach and demonstrate
compassion as a unique concept that cannot be treated as a one-size-fits-all
approach. It is essential that nurses understand this and be aware that
compassion means different situation and to different people individually
(Cornwell & Goodrich 2009, p. 8).
in nursing is important and it is fundamental to patient care and needs. Nurse,
midwives and care staff model compassionate behaviour toward patient influence
and improve the experience of patients, the quality of care and health outcomes
across the range of health and care sector (Cummings, 2013, p.2). It is
important that all nurses go to work to provide compassionate, high-quality
care to patients and their family, particularly to ‘the most vulnerable
patients such as the older people and those nearing the end of their lives- the
very people in greatest need of humanity and kindness’ (Middleton, 2011).
and team relationship not only help foster quality interactions among team
member but also help improve the quality of health care delivered to patients.
This behaviour in turn help model compassionate behaviour. In addition, first-hand
personal experiences of care acquired when professionals themselves, or their
loved ones, become patients, the nature of this experience of care very often
has a profound effect on how they carry out their clinical practice.
the other hand, thoughtfulness and self-awareness help remind nurses that
patients are individuals and unique and they should be treated as such, by
providing compassionate support. A work-friendly environment in which everyday
challenges, frustrations and pressures of the job are freely discussed without prejudice
– in which sharing stories and feelings about patients and their care is
legitimised is essential. This type of environment will enable staff (nurses
and caregivers) to be compassionate towards patients in their care at all
times, this requires action on multiple levels (Cornwell & Goodrich, 2009,
the lapse like inadequate training, skills and knowledge might prevent the
required compassionate care. Also, lack of coping mechanisms against varying
state of stress and burnout for the nurses can prevent the compassionate care.
Wall, et al, (1997) findings validate the self-reported stress of health
service staff, in general, is considerably greater than that of the general
working population and Gilbert (2009) suggested that a lack of compassion
towards oneself is likely to lead to a lack of compassion towards
patients. Also, Cornwell and Goodrich
(2009) emphasis that lack of time and simultaneous pressure to meet targets are
also a contributing factor to lapses in compassion in health care.
spite the fact that many nurses entered the healthcare profession with enthusiasm,
abundant stores of compassion and strong determination to treat patients in the
respectful and humane way as they themselves would want to be treated, yet
lapses in compassionate care do occur (Cornwell & Goodrich, 2009, p.8). For
example, lapses in meeting the needs of older people with multiple needs or
understand the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs at a time
when the patient and their family may be highly vulnerable.
(1985 cited in Bradshaw, 2014) argued that compassion is a concept that cannot
be theoretical and emotionally quantified and measured, it is a practical
activity, motivation and commitment to serve, while Bradshaw (2016) described
compassion has a concept that is not primarily at the very core of nursing
practice but an act that cannot be separated from human way of existence. It
runs deeply, theologically and ontologically in the kind of the person a nurse
should become – revealed not in words but in his/her actions (Bradshaw, 2016).
According to Cummings and Bennett (2012, p. 13) compassion is how care is given
through relationship based on empathy, respect and dignity. It is a range of
activities and attitudes whose practice is inflected in patient preferences and
how they perceive their care, quality of life and contextual features.
and Samuriwo (2016, p.140) argued that compassion in healthcare is a highly
contested and ambiguous concept which the real meaning and understanding are
often chased after by health academics and practitioner. Compassion is
fundamental to nursing practice and yet very few nurses possess this quality
(Middleton, 2011 p.1). Every nurse,
however, needs a clear understanding of what constitutes compassion. ‘Nurses
should understand that compassion does not exist as an essence or good that can
be dispensed nor unalloyed commodity as balm that can be poured out anywhere
and everywhere’ (Pattison and Samuriwo, 2016, p.141- 42).
essay explores the understanding of compassion in healthcare, what prevent and
enable nurses to be compassionate toward every patient and why compassion is
important for the nursing profession. The essay also examines how compassion
unifies the other 5Cs, how it can inform future practice and draw a conclusion
from the key points.
December 2012, the NHS England chief nursing officer Jane Cummings launched the
”6Cs” care, compassion, courage, communication, commitment and competence as
a result of high profile cases of poor quality care in England (Stephenson,
2014; Baillie, 2015). This strategic move that underpins the core value of
healthcare was not only to inspire nurses but also other health and clinical
professionals; healthcare assistants, hospital porter, ward clerk, doctors,
consultant, trust chief executive just to mention a few.
Compassion in Nursing