What is 'compassion' in nursing, and can it be measured?

Hornton Grange, Worcester Room
Lectures Talks and Workshops
Wednesday 28th May 2014 (09:00-17:00)
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Workshop Leader: Dr Antje Lindenmeyer

The Francis Report of the Mid-Staffordshire Inquiry identified compassion in nursing as one of its main themes; however, recommendations centre on processes to ensure compassionate care is delivered and there is little mention of the ethical and personal implications of compassion for nurses (e.g. ‘emotional labour’ and burnout). Pre-empting the final publication of the Francis Report the Chief Nursing Officer of NHS England developed the ‘6Cs’ (Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage, Commitment) to improve care. However, these approaches imply that there is a consensus on what compassion is and that it can be measured and taught. A body of work is now emerging which critically examines the theoretical, organisational and cultural context of compassion in healthcare and related concepts such as compassionate caring (Chambers and Ryder, 2009), intelligent kindness (Ballatt 2011) and dignity (Patterson 2011), which has fed into programmes such as “Point of Care” developed by the King’s Fund. The purpose of the workshop will be to examine the dimensions of compassion (philosophical, political and as lived experience) in order to explore what is ethical and practical in terms of ‘measuring’ dimensions of compassion.

In spite of the increasing use of the term compassion in health policy, this is currently an under-researched area. There is great scope for high quality studies exploring the lived experience of compassionate care and high impact journal publications. We also aim to use the workshop to initiate an interdisciplinary interest group that will contribute to applications for research funding (e.g. Wellcome Trust New Investigator awards).