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“What empathy means to me”

16 December 2016


The Health Foundation’s latest newsletter features an article entitled ‘What empathy means to me’, in which they interviewed four NHS workers about what empathy signifies for them and the purpose that is serves in health and social care.

Two of the workers interviewed, Karen Brown from Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Frances Riley from John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, are part of our patient and family-centred care (PFCC) project, using this methodology within their organisations.

Karen spoke about how this methodology has enabled those involved to take part in patient shadowing, a methodology which enables them to see things from the patient’s perspective and therefore become more empathetic. Karen also spoke of how she also thinks that empathy is important for staff-to-staff relationships: it’s important to understand all perspectives in order to support one another.

Using the methodology in the context of end-of-life care, Frances spoke about how empathy is particularly important in this care setting: “I think empathy is closely linked with compassion and dignity and it’s a fundamental part of our job. It’s about seeing each patient as an individual. Patients are not objects, and nurses are not robots – it’s about personal interaction.”

It’s great to see those involved in our PFCC projects talking about how the programme has enabled them to reflect upon empathy and its importance in healthcare relationships. You can read the full interviews here.