Why do we deprive the NHS of kindness?

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Kind nurse
Kindness is personal – you feel it by example and teach it to yourself

The stories don’t go away.

Accusing headlines still roll – long after the Mid Staffs disaster.

Sloppy hygiene, indifferent  care,  patients maltreated and sidelined.

Will nothing save the NHS from self-destruction?

Once more with feeling

It’s from reports like these that the Compassion in Practice programme was begun – a nation-wide initiative led by Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England.

Compassion is so sadly lacking that a special drive is necessary to put it in place. To recognise that patients are human beings, not numbers. That feelings and sensitivities are involved.

All very laudable – but in reality, just another top-down knee-jerk from the rah-rah top dogs. To make it look like some moral responsibility is happening.

Yes, it’s an important project and the people involved in it are obviously committed to the hilt. It’s also doomed to token responses and indifference across the board.

Lip service

Why?

Because though its focus is compassion, in the misguided real world we’ve created for ourselves, our culture no longer includes kindness.

We have become mean, selfish and bad-tempered in ways that would shock our parents. The product of our go-faster, results-driven, material-grabbing society.

And strong though it is, the Compassion in Practice programme is no match for our ingrained reflex of only looking out for Number One.

Its very credo demonstrates the background from which it has sprung: Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment.

Take out “Compassion” and it could be any double-speak marketing plan from selling life insurance to toothpaste. Our sales teams care, we bring you the best through Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment.

You’ve been a customer. You’ve heard it before.

Poppycock!

All those invisible words strung together to be saluted while the company hymn is sung. Meaningless promises of nothing from their overuse. Right over the heads of patients and medical staff alike.

A real issue

Which is a crying shame because it IS important. Compassion, that is.

People ARE lying in hospital and suffering unnecessarily.

Ignored, unattended and forgotten because that is the way we treat everything in our online, mobile-obsessed, narcissistic society.

Yes, Compassion. But where is the kindness?

Taken away because all of us are stampeded for time.

Gotta get results. Gotta go, go, go.

Come on, let’s move – we’ve got targets here.

Targets!

The most deadly concept ever applied to the NHS. (Tweet this)

Again because people are people, not numbers. And people need time to be treated right. As far away from targets as you could possibly get.

Give of yourself

Because kindness is time.

And sorry, that means none of the “time is money” principles of modern cut-throat business apply here.

Time is giving of yourself and we’re too damn full of ourselves to allow it. It’s the prevailing culture and we’re all immersed in it all the time.

Of course, doctors and nurses try to step out of it – and a lot of them succeed.

Only to get chucked straight back into it, coming off duty. Back to the rat-race – traffic jams, bus queues, grab-while-you-can supermarket offers and first-come-first-served push-shove living.

All of which is the world’s worst experience when you’re ill.

When you’re not yourself and things won’t work properly – scared and unsure you will ever survive.

And all around you is the driving myth that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

That everything must be short, bite-sized and razor-sharp to get through what is needed.

The minimum of care, concern, courtesy, considerateness, cognizance of others and consciousness of their needs.

Impossible to sign up to without time.

Not us any more

Because kindness requires reflexes we no longer have. Listening, paying attention, thinking of others, responding to them with respect and dignity.

You can’t learn these in a weekend workshop. Or wave around a certificate claiming you’ve got them.

They’re life skills we learn the hard way from birth, vital capabilities that get used every day. Or should.

Disciplines that make us better than we are.

That lift us up from being also-rans in the rat-race – into feeling, caring human beings who really do give a damn about the world around us and the people in it.

Kindness in the NHS?

Back to being human

It’s there all right. And it’s up to us to encourage it by our own example. To give Jane Cummings and her team the co-operation, support and teeth that they need.

To prove that Compassion in Practice really does inspire Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment.

To get away from those staff abuse posters that are a daily indictment of the lives we lead.

To get away from the mindset none of us believe anyway. Your call IS important, we care about our customers. Currently, you are Number 17 in a queue.

To be polite and thoughtful even though waiting times are long. To co-operate at every turn to make staff’s work easier. To act with kindness ourselves and inspire it in return.

Because what goes around, comes around.

And it’s not necessarily the NHS that’s to blame.

It’s us.

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Originally posted on 14 September 2018 @ 4:42 am

Originally posted on 14 September 2018 @ 4:42 am