A new King's Fund report – titled Enabling Compassionate Care in Acute Hospital Services and published this week – also points the finger at a ‘technical shift’, especially in training.
It described core training for the nursing and medical professions as essentially ‘biomedical’, adding that although ‘effective clinical care is clearly fundamentally important… human aspects of care must also be valued in training and in terms of career progression’.
The article went on to offer opposing opinions from gurus within the medical profession as to whether compassion can or should be a recruitment criterion. They all agreed on one point, though. Professionals who are overworked, underpaid and treated with little respect by their superiors are more likely to treat their charges with little compassion or care.
I believe that we should use compassion as a criterion for recruitment and I think a good place to start would be with the senior management. An ethic of compassionate care must come from the top and be expected at every level in the organization, not just for end users. The radical idea of demanding that everyone be very nice to each other is being tried in Alaskan and Australian hospitals (see previous posts on the NUKA model of care). No one in those centres has passed out or died yet from too much kindness.