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How can we ensure there are no limits to the scope of compassion?

Farhana Nargis 23 September 2019

Our Programmes Manager Farhana Nargis reflects on the issue of diversity in our work as we seek to have an impact across organisations and to help build inclusive cultures.

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I joined the Point of Care Foundation as Programmes Manager in January this year, excited by the prospect of following my dream of working for an organisation whose ethos and values echo my own.

Nine months on, this blog reflects a little on what I have observed so far.

The power of storytelling

Schwartz Rounds provide healthcare staff from all disciplines a safe space to discuss the emotional and social aspects of their work. Healthcare staff face daily pressures with little time to reflect on the impact of providing care. It is evident that in order for staff to deliver high-quality compassionate care, they need to feel supported in providing that care. Today we are supporting Schwartz Rounds in over 200 organisations, the range of which is expanding to new sectors beyond healthcare. We’re now working with Prisons, Vets, Children’s Social Care and Academic Institutions.

In my previous role with Ashford and St Peters Hospital, I worked closely with the Point of Care Foundation to develop new ideas for helping spread the benefit of Schwartz Rounds by promoting participation. We developed the ‘Pop Up Round’, which aimed to take Rounds out to wards, where many staff are better able to attend and participate than at a regular, fixed monthly event. At the four Schwartz Community events we held earlier in the year in London, Leeds and Manchester, we explored creative ways to promote Rounds to ‘hidden’ voices by introducing Pop-Up Rounds more widely.

I’ve been most impressed by the Schwartz community’s devotion to the Rounds. What has particularly struck me is the power of storytelling to inspire others – how listening without judgment, and truly seeing the person rather than their position, unearths the common humanity between colleagues.

Growth mindset

Another important part of my role is providing support to empower health care professionals by taking a step back and seeing the patients’ journey and experience through their eyes. This provides a window of opportunity for making improvements on what matters most to them. Our Sweeney Programme enables this by tried and tested techniques to make improvements for patients, staff and the community.

I’ve been impressed by how teams and individuals are a force for change in improving the care they give. By attending Sweeney programme workshops over recent months, I’ve learnt what it means to have a growth mindset in understanding human behaviour around change. The tools needed for engagement are sometimes the most simple, for example the need to feel a sense of worth, the need to feel competent, having leaders as dealers of hope, and trust.

Diversity focus

As I consider my experience in this role so far, I feel that, across all our work, one of the greatest challenges we face is for our activities to be fully inclusive of all people, regardless of race, colour or creed. The NHS constitution presents core values of respect and dignity, compassion and inclusion. These values have particular resonance given the diversity of the NHS workforce.

At the Point of Care Foundation, we’re interested in the diversity of participants in our programmes. We’d like to explore the narratives of staff from diverse backgrounds, including people from Black, Asian or ethnic minority backgrounds, the LGBT community, or people living with disability.

Why are we interested in this? Because we know we don’t always hear all the voices in the room. We’d like to increase representation from all groups. The NHS workforce is wonderfully diverse, which opens up a range of benefits for organisations and individuals. Having a wider set of skills, languages, cultures and beliefs ignites the spark of creativity, respect and willingness to strive for others working towards a common goal.

We all deserve to share our views to make a difference for a shared purpose. We want to be sure the work we do at the Point of Care Foundation, including promoting inclusive cultures, benefits everyone within the organisations we work with. This is an area I will be thinking about over the coming months. Please get in touch if it’s of interest to you. We are keen to hear from anyone working in health organisations with ideas about how we can work to create a more inclusive culture.