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Impact of a compassionate care leadership programme

13 June 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 11


Compassionate care delivery enhances patient satisfaction and quality of life and reduces nurse burnout. This study measured the perceptions of nursing and midwifery leaders regarding the impact of the ‘Leaders for Compassionate Care Programme’ on their personal development, learning experience, service and care delivery, programme quality, and satisfaction with the programme. Seventy-nine leaders were surveyed using the Leaders for Compassionate Care Outcomes Evaluation Questionnaire and the Leaders for Compassionate Care Evaluation Questionnaire. Participants' perceived ability to support peer learning, manage conflict, and build trust with patients increased significantly following the programme (P≤0.001). Over 80% of participants reported that they were able to apply to practice what they had learnt from the programme and reported an increase in their motivation to lead in compassionate care delivery. Various strategies are needed to improve compassionate care leadership and further research is needed to explore the long-term impact of the programme.

Compassionate care is defined as ‘a deep feeling of connectedness with the experience of human suffering that requires personal knowing of the suffering of others’ (Peters, 2006: 38). Dewar et al (2011) conceptualised compassionate care in terms of the relationship that exists between vulnerable human beings that must be nurtured so that one person perceives the vulnerability of the other person and responds to it in a meaningful way.

Effective leadership is vital to the delivery of safe, high-quality, and compassionate health care. In contrast, the lack of compassionate leadership has a negative impact on healthcare outcomes and quality (McSherry and Pearce, 2016). This was highlighted in two key reports in the UK, namely Kirkup's (2015)Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation and the Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry (Francis, 2013). Within these reports, the failure of several nursing leaders in their role and responsibility to care was identified as one of the key contributors to detrimental, neglectful and systemic failures to safeguard a culture of safety, quality and compassion (McSherry and Pearce, 2016). Therefore, the importance of promoting patient-centred compassionate leadership in health care was emphasised (Francis, 2013; Kirkup, 2015).

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