Title of ArticleThe heart of caring – understanding compassionate care through storytelling
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sSuzanne J. Murray and Karen A. Tuqiri
ReferenceVolume 10, Issue 1, Article 4
Date of PublicationMay 2020
KeywordsCompassion, person-centred, reflection, self-care, stories, team engagement, workplace culture

Background: Recent international and national reports have identified that failures of leadership leave patients at risk of not receiving consistent high-quality, compassionate care. Nurses and midwives are trusted with people’s most valuable asset, their health, so it is important to understand what factors might lead them to be less than empathetic with those who need their care.

Aim and objective: To capture and understand stories from nurses and midwives and develop a reflective resource that could be used to connect with caring and compassion.

Methods: A qualitative research design was used, with a narrative approach of storytelling that enabled the capture of deeper insights into nurses’ and midwives’ stories of caring and compassion. A total of 50 stories were shared and a thematic analysis was undertaken of story excerpts to be included in the reflective resource.

Results: The work resulted in the publication of The Heart of Caring Resource for Reflection book, the purpose of which was to provide opportunities for reflection on caring and compassion. It also led to the emergence of a ‘framework’ with four main themes, which became domains ‘to lead person-centred compassionate care’, in response to the overall message from the stories as a collective.

Conclusion: The book has enabled the stories of nurses and midwives to be shared, and allowed a connection with what caring and compassion means to them and to their teams. Leading person- centred compassionate care needs to be an approach across the whole of the healthcare system, and a focus on the experiences of staff as well as of patients and families is required in order to transform care delivery.

Implications for practice:

  • The Heart of Caring Resource for Reflection book and framework connects with caring and compassion, aiming to promote a culture of person-centred compassionate care, where human-to-human connections are valued, teams are engaged and self-care and wellbeing are supported. This is essential for the whole healthcare system
  • Storytelling and reflecting on nursing practice and the human experience is a powerful way to connect with caring and what matters, to ensure the patient remains the focus of care. This can significantly influence patient safety
  • Leading person-centred compassionate care needs to be a systemwide approach in healthcare, requiring a focus on the experiences of staff as well as those of patients and families

This article by Suzanne J. Murray and Karen A. Tuqiri is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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