Relationships are key: being kind to ourselves and others

Jo Odell, FoNS Practice Development Facilitator

So, it’s the first week in March, the daffodils and spring flowers are starting to emerge and the first signs of spring are here. It’s a time of emerging new life and growth in nature all around us. So how are you feeling in March? Perhaps it’s time to do something new? 

Action for Happiness have published a calendar for March, which they have termed ‘Mindful March’, with small helpful steps to take each day urging us to be more mindful and to live in the present. The calendar quoteThich Nhat Hanh, who says The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. Today, 5th March, we are encouraged to take three calm breaths in and out each hour. This is something that we can achieve no matter how busy we are. But you may need to have a mechanism like setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to stop for three calm breaths! 

Also today I noticed on Twitter a call to be kind to people who work in the NHS #OneKindThing – about appreciating each other and saying thank you, offering some kind words of support or sitting with someone and listening. Again, these are all small things that are achievable no matter how busy you are.  

The message of both these campaigns is to be kind to ourselves and to other people we work with. However, clinical staff I work with (though the FoNS programmes) often tell me this is not something they experience at work, where the culture of care is often focused on targets, finding solutions to problems and achieving outcomes. Somewhere in all the busyness of delivering care we seem to have forgotten the importance of relationships with people: Relationships with colleagues, patients and other professions that we interact with on a daily basis, in the busy and overburdened world of health and social care. However, all is not lost! Last week FoNS published the second edition of the Creating Caring Cultures booklet. This booklet, and the resources that go with it, offer practical and easy to implement suggestions of how to understand the culture of care in which you workthe one that is experienced by patients, visitors and other professionals. We have heard back from people using these resources that paying attention to the areas on the ribbons of the rainbow’ really does make a difference. One of the key differences that I have seen emerge with the Inspire Improvement Fellows and their teams is the development of more personcentred relationships. The fellows are seeking to move past peoples professional titles (eg nurse, doctor manager) and the titles we give to people in our care (eg patients, service users, clients) to reach the person, their values and beliefs and experiences. This enables us to get to know each other better and so develop stronger relationships on a human level. 

So, I urge you today, what can you do to be kinder to yourself? Perhaps follow the actions in the Mindful March Calendar for a month and see what difference it makes. Say thank you to a colleague. Or share the Creating Caring Cultures resources with them and generate a conversation about how relationships are in our culture of care: what is going well and what could we be doing more of. 

What will you do? 

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