Like everyone, I feel senses of anger, shame, sadness and bewilderment at the findings of the Francis Report. As we have seen in the media and elsewhere, this sense if bewilderment prevails. As I was asked when I was interviewed by BBC Radio Essex - why does it need someone to tell a nurse to offer a drink to a patient (and then to make sure they can drink it). The implication is that many 'nurses' are ignoring the needs of patients purposely. Is this the case? I really hope not.
At the same time as we have a government who is bemoaning the lack of compassion within the nursing profession in particular, I have spent the past week wondering where their compassion for our society has gone. Let's take the issue of welfare and look at some of the views expressed:
- Osborne's view that the welfare state has somehow funded the 'kind of lifestyle, that Mick Philpott led - as though there is a particular kind of lifestyle that leads to mass murderer. I am loath to promote the Daily Mail, but their headline says it all in relation to a particular view that is held about welfare by some in this country. and don't even get me started in the terminology used in relation to him being a father ('bred' the children). The government seems to see fit to blame the 'system' for Philpott's crimes (in my view because he represents to them what they most dislike in society more broadly) while conversely blames the individual for wealth-related issues such as lack of employment, poor nutrition and other inequality related areas.. A complete lack of compassion for the people in society who need help sometimes.
As a welcome counter-balance to the government's current messages, the following article puts right some of the falsehoods that are fed to us through the media (such as the Daly Mail) -'Separating fact from fiction'.
So - how to relate this to nursing education? Firstly, as people responsible for educating students in practice and/or university settings, we need to be informed and educated ourselves so that we understand our own views in ways that relate to the patients (and others) that students work with. Secondly, a call for compassion within healthcare is absolutely right - the many nurses and other healthcare professionals who care every day demonstrating compassion in challenging circumstances would agree with the current emphasis on ensuring that we are person-centred in our interactions with patients. Role modelling is vital in healthcare - where there is compassionate leadership, there is likely to be compassionate care. So let's hope the government realises this before too long. At the moment, there's not a lot of compassion evident in the voices that we hear in the leadership of our country.