Top nurses launch new drive to build culture of compassionate care across the NHS

The nation’s top nurses today launch a new drive to ensure values such as compassion and courage are at the heart of the NHS and the public health and care sectors.

They are publishing a new three-year vision and strategy for nursing, midwifery and care staff that aims to build the culture of compassionate care in all areas of practice.

Called Compassion in Practice, it has been drawn up by Jane Cummings, the Chief Nursing Officer for England (CNO), based with the NHS Commissioning Board, and Viv Bennett, Director of Nursing at the Department of Health.

It is being published at the CNO’s annual conference in Manchester, attended by 400 senior figures from the caring professions. It follows an eight-week consultation involving over 9,000 nurses, midwives, care staff and patients.

Actions include: recruiting, appraising and training staff according to values as well as technical skill; regularly reviewing organisational culture and evidence for staffing levels; doing more to assess patients’ experience; and helping staff make every contact count for improving health and wellbeing.

In her keynote address at the start of the conference today, Ms Cummings urging nurses, midwives and care staff to tackle head on the big challenges facing their professions.

“Being a nurse, a midwife or a care worker is an extraordinary role,” she says. “We all came into these roles because we wanted to make a difference to the people we care for and support.

“We care for people in their own homes, in communities, hospices and in hospitals. We are proud to be part of a remarkable health and care service that does make a difference to people’s lives each and every day.

“But the context for health care and support is changing.  Most significantly, with people living longer, we have a greater number of older patients and people to support, many with multiple and complex needs.

“And while the health, care and support system provides a good – often excellent – service, this is not universal.  There is poor care, sometimes very poor. Such poor care is a betrayal of what we all stand for.

“The actions we are setting out – developed with nurses, midwives and care staff – can change the way we work, transform the care of our patients and ensure we deliver a culture of compassionate care.

“We must seize this opportunity to create a future where people are treated with compassion, dignity and respect by skilled staff who have the competence and time to care.”

Viv Bennett, who will lead implementation of the public health and social care elements of the strategy, said: “Nurses midwives and care staff have a big role in preventing ill health and promoting good health and wellbeing.

“This starts at the very beginning of life, giving children the best possible start, and continues throughout its course. Our aim is to maximize the contribution of all nurses midwives and carers to improving the publics’ health by making every contact count for health and wellbeing.

“As our population lives longer, nurses and care staff are increasing involved in supporting older people so the extra years can be healthy years.

“This means working across health and care boundaries to enable people to remain active, connected and independent in their own homes, or another place of their choice, for as long as they are able.  And it means joining up health and care services to provide the integrated care people want.”

The new strategy and vision defines the enduring values that underpin good care. Dubbed  “The 6Cs”, these are: care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment.

While these are not new concepts, the aim is to provide nurses, midwives and care staff with a clear and consistent way of explaining their values and to offer patients a clear statement of what to expect.

The document then sets out six areas of action with specific measures that impact right across the NHS, public health and care and support system – from national and local organisations to individuals.  The areas of action are:

  • Helping people to stay independent, maximising well-being and improving health outcomes;
  • Working with people to provide a positive experience of care;
  • Delivering high quality care and measuring the impact of care;
  • Building and strengthening leadership;
  • Ensuring the right staff, with the right skills, are in the right place;
  • Supporting positive staff experience.

Specific measures include:

  • Supporting all nurses with evidence and training to make every contact count for improving health and wellbeing;
  • Recommending trust boards carry out and publish reviews of their organisational culture, with feedback from staff and patients;
  • Recommending trust boards publish information on evidence based staffing levels at least every six months with an explanation of how they impact on quality and discussion at public board meetings;
  • Developing new patient experience measures for children, young people and vulnerable adults in all settings including those with dementia; Identifying patient experience measures that can be used between settings and sectors;
  • Developing a new leadership programme for ward managers, team leaders and nursing directors that is based on values and behaviours and the implementation of the 6Cs;
  • Embedding The 6Cs in all nursing and midwifery university education and training;
  • Ensuring that recruitment to university undergraduate programmes is based on values and behaviours, as well as technical and academic skills;
  • Promoting the use of The 6Cs, values and behaviours at all stages of recruitment and appraisal for nurses, midwives and care staff prior to expanding to other staff in the NHS;
  • Working with national organisations to agree stronger arrangements to ensure effective training, recruitment and induction of support workers in health, care and support;
  • Developing a national scheme to recognise organisations or teams that are excellent examples of The 6Cs in action.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Ensuring that patients get the best possible care is a priority for this Government. Nurses play an important role in this which is why this announcement by nurse leaders is so important.

“We want to do all we can to support those who care for patients – and this new vision will help us do that. Nurses, midwives and care staff have one of the most demanding and sensitive roles in the NHS and social care, and they command our respect and support.”

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  1. Suzanne Loverseed says:

    I have been a nurse for 38 years – longer by a margin than the Chief Nurse, and I say this: I have witnessed 38 years of moaning at nurses – for what? I have witnessed decades of political manouvering and tinkering with health – but only for political milage. I have witnessed a relentless pursuit of nurses on the spurious grounds of professional regulation – where nurses have not won – but the lawyers have – the regulatory bodies of the 9 health care bodies have been marched to the tune of CHRE with the result that so many are losing their right to practice – but the organisations of the NHS never seem to attract sensure?

    Why – why has all of this occurred? Increasing technology, longer life and an increasing expectation of people with regard to their health are mentioned, but the elephant in the room is always silent? NUMBERS – of PEOPLE – in the UK – mean that more resources are needed – staff, drugs, buildings, training, technology, and all ancillary resources need to keep pace with demand – except that successive governments have NOT been honest with the public, about the price of such inexhaustive care. The reality of needing to increase contributions to health care has been carefully circumnavigated in political speak, with the result that the public remains largely ignorant of fact of ‘progress’ since the mid 1970’s when I entered the nursing profession.

    I truly feel that nurses have faced increasing censure over the decades as our role has altered by governmental decree, from doctor hand maid to public hand maid! We have faced the wrath of many for one reason; people do not feel able to face doctors – or more realisitocally the real ‘demons of change’ the administrator. I trained prior to the day when politics demanded that the NHS be run by ‘business people’ who had not a jot of understanding of the delivery of health care. I saw the arival of boys who could count – and the demise of expereinced nurses! I was there when the business boys prolifereated and began to order nurses – and belatedly doctors – around. I trained in another distinct profession – and returned to teach nurses, so I was very concerned to witness the increasing changes (political machinations) that were applied to nursing – from the legal, political, organisational, educational – and every other ‘ational’ you could dream of – and in sum I say this.

    When they finally stop – and let senior nurses tell them – when they finally listen, to those health providers who understand, – when they finally accept that the boys and girls from business maybe need to do some training – and actually delivery of care facing the same horrors that nurses face, under the authority and discipline of a senior nurse such as a ward manager, – when all of these things occur and the public are allowed to once more rely and depend on actual health provision as practised by the voice of wisdom, compassion and professional values and standards, – then – then – and only then – will anything actually occur such as to deliver a standard of treatments and care to the population as they have told us they demand – and we have told them we would wish to deliver. Any one listening??

  2. Natalie Turner says:

    Please, please reduce the paper/computer work burden and then I will have more time on my hands for patients.

    Please resolve the NMC regulation of Advancing Practitioner outcomes and make sure there are CLINICAL Practitioners in all areas to monitor practice quality – not just paperwork. Clinical practitioners on decision making panels too.