Compassion, Civility and Respect
Helping us all to deliver better care
At #TeamKGH, we recognise the link between staff having a good experience at work, and patients having a positive, safe experience within our hospitals. We’ve introduced a range of initiatives linked to compassion, civility and respect to give us the skills to recognise and address challenging behaviour – both in others and within ourselves.
Our colleagues are our most valuable resource. We know that when people are valued and respected within the workplace, they feel happier and more committed to their work. In turn, this means they perform more effectively. In other words, better staff satisfaction means better patient care – and that is what we all come into work to do, whether we are delivering patient care directly or supporting others in doing so.
When people do not experience kindness, civility and respect, research shows that it has a negative impact on their performance. When this happens, we are more likely to make mistakes which could lead to serious consequences, such as an error in a patient’s medication or treatment. This is why reducing stress and nurturing happiness in the workplace is a fundamental part of excellent patient care.
Start with compassion… end with respect
While there are many examples of staff and patients enjoying a great experience, there are occasional stories where this isn’t the case. That’s where “Start with compassion… end with respect” comes in: We want to make sure that every interaction we have with others is a positive one – not just most of the time, but all of the time. All patients should expect the best possible care when using our hospitals, so this means that hospital colleagues also need to have the best possible experience at work.
The new initiatives remind us that we all have a choice about how we react to someone who is being unkind, uncivil or disrespectful towards us. The same applies if we see someone behaving like this towards others, and breaking the chain is really important. Research shows that tackling someone else’s unkindness or incivility in an unhelpful way, for example by arguing back, not only makes you feel a lot worse, but can actually make things worse for a lot of other people too, including patients and other hospital visitors.
We work in a stressful environment where critical decisions and actions are often needed at short notice, and the pandemic has only added to the pressure. If we’re having a difficult day, we might say something that upsets someone even if we didn’t mean to. Regardless of intent, these moments can have a negative impact on our performance as a team, and on the quality of the care we deliver.
#KGHCompassionism gives staff the skills and knowledge to respond positively to poor behaviours in a respectful and non-critical way. It is not designed to demand changes but in the vast majority of cases (more than 95%) people decide to change once they become aware of the impact they can have on others.
Our #KGHCompassionism initiatives feature four specific programmes designed to create a happy workforce that operates as a team delivering holistic patient-centred care.
1. We started with our Respect Empowers campaign in January 2020, highlighting the direct impact behaviour can have on clinical decision making.
2. We followed this up with a Civility Saves Lives seminar in July 2020 to show the importance of respect at work and to give everyone the skills and confidence to act when they encounter potentially unkind and disrespectful behaviour.
3. We are promoting civility and respect through self-awareness and self-reflection. We are asking staff to take moments of self-reflection after every action, asking themselves: Did that person see the best of me and what can I do to improve? #BestofMe
4. Calling it out with Compassion is based on research by academics and experts like Civility Saves Lives. This initiative alerts people when they are displaying behaviours that may cause distress to others. It is designed to give people the skills to address – without judgement – any behaviour that can have a negative impact on others.
This includes delivering a number of sessions to raise awareness as well as the appointment of Peer Messengers – approachable, compassionate and friendly members of the team chosen by their colleagues who are able to discuss poor behaviour without judging.
Our case studies tell the stories of two colleagues who felt supported and appreciated in two very different ways when situations were addressed with compassion, civility and respect.
- When someone is unkind, rude or disrespectful to me the quality of my work suffers
- When I see someone being unkind, rude or disrespectful I am less likely to help others
- When my patients see unkindness, rudeness and disrespect they feel anxious about our ability to care for them
- When I allow unkindness, rudeness and disrespect, everyone suffers, including our patients
Speaking up had a positive impact for us all
Deputy ward sister Dezrene Jones-Beezer has seen how having respected and valued staff means better care for patients after she raised concerns with #TeamKGH’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Susan Clennett, who supports staff to raise issues and concerns.
This led to open and honest conversations with those involved to highlight the impact certain behaviour was having on her and other members of the team.
“It can be difficult to raise issues like this, but I am glad I did and I appreciate that my voice was heard,” says Dezrene.
“The listening and feedback sessions were really useful in showing how certain types of behaviour were having an impact on the rest of the team. We now have a much better working environment.”
“I saw that these actions had an immediate impact on the team’s morale, which in turn is really positive for patient care.”
Dezrene Jones-Beezer Deputy Ward Sister
Showing compassion makes a real difference
“I’m proud to be part of TeamKGH, a place where showing kindness, compassion and respect for colleagues is a vital part of delivering the best care for our patients.”
Consultant Gastroenterologist Dr Ajay Verma
Recognising and being ready to acknowledge the amazing skill and dedication we show - often in challenging circumstances - can make a real difference to how we all feel about working for #TeamKGH.
In May 2020, at the height of our response to Covid-19, Chief Executive Simon Weldon sent personalised letters to the children of staff telling them their parents are “true heroes” who were “working really hard to help all of the poorly people in the hospital”.
Intended to reassure youngsters who may have been concerned that their mums and dads were at the heart of the pandemic, the message also touched staff and proved how valuable a simple ‘thank you’ can be.
One member of staff, Dr Ajay Verma, shared the letter to his son Luca and daughter Bella on Twitter saying: “This is a real class act. I am proud to work for @KettGeneral.”
His tweet was seen by more than 440,000 people and received more than 100,000 engagements, including likes, comments and shares.
Dr Verma said: “This gesture made me proud to be part of #TeamKGH, a place where showing kindness and respect for colleagues is a vital part of delivering the best care for our patients.”
Simon said: “The hard work and dedication to all our patients by colleagues across #TeamKGH was truly humbling. It was important not only to recognise this commitment, but also to acknowledge the impact that working through the pandemic would be having on their families.”