The courage to be kind. Reflecting on the role of kindness in the healthcare response to COVID-19
Author: Ben Thurman
At the start of 2020 there was a gathering momentum to conversations about the role of kindness and compassion in health and social care in Scotland; yet, as the Sturrock Report highlighted, there are many tensions and challenges to building a culture that allows room for kindness. When COVID-19 happened, the healthcare system entered a period of rapid transformation in which many of the previously insurmountable ‘barriers’ to kindness appeared to fall away. In this context, it felt important to capture what was happening, and what that might reveal about priorities for health and social care renewal.
This report draws on a series of reflective conversations, conducted between April and September 2020 with five medics working in different parts of NHS Scotland. The conversations reflected on what can be achieved when united by a common purpose, and when work is underpinned by relationships and collaboration. But alongside the opportunities presented by changes in practice and a renewed focus on wellbeing, there was concern that this may be lost amidst a focus on remobilising and ‘getting back to normal’.
The voices in this report offer a particular perspective. But the depth of reflection and the clear message about the need to ease some of the pressure in the system in order to ensure the wellbeing of staff and patients is one that is relevant and urgent right across the health service.