Our focus is on how all working in health and social care can best be supported in their mission to help and heal. Research shows that compassion is the most powerful intervention in health care, and that compassionate health care is beneficial for patients through improving clinical outcomes; health care systems and payers, by supporting financial sustainability; and health care professionals, through lowering burnout and promoting resilience and wellbeing.
The crisis requires leadership and cultures based on that core value of compassion. Compassionate leadership is critical to sustaining cultures of high-quality, continually improving and compassionate care. In practice it means leaders listening to those they lead, arriving at a shared (rather than imposed) understanding of the challenges they face, empathising with and caring for them, and then taking action to help or support them to do their jobs more effectively – by helping to remove obstacles and to ensure they have the resources they need.
Sustaining cultures of high-quality compassionate care requires compassionate leadership at every level and in interactions between all parts of the system – from national and international leaders to local teams. This leads to higher patient satisfaction, higher staff engagement and satisfaction is, and better-quality care and financial performance.
Compassionate leadership embodies both a sensitivity to the challenges that those working in health and social care face; and a commitment to help them respond effectively to those challenges and to thrive in the process of their work, through modelling compassion and self-compassion. Globally, since Covid -19 there has been more appreciation of compassion in community organisations. Made up of local people, civil society and other groups, many have been present in communities for years. Connecting millions of people to safety nets their role in building community wide support for health and saving lives has offered hope for future health systems.
Every country in the world is struggling to deal with the healthcare demands of its citizens – all health systems are seeking creative responses, to innovate, spread knowledge and collaborate. Most have recognised that compassion is at the heart of any effective response, and at the heart of health and social care. We must promote understanding of our interconnectedness with each other – across professional boundaries, across hierarchies, across sectors, across communities and across nations to provide the health and social care that ensures the happiness and health of our communities.