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Duty of care

Compassionte care lies at the heart of the Scottish Government's Quality Strategy.

Three years ago, aided by a donation from the founder of Stagecoach, Ann Gloag, a former nurse, a commission was set up to investigate practical ways in which compassion can be embedded in nursing care. It is now common to talk of compassion but three years back it was unfamiliar and seen as a tool to criticise.

As she talks of the NHS in Scotland the Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, stresses that all staff should have the time and opportunity to show care in the way it is needed in that instance. An elderly lady was given a plastic mug for her drinks but seldom drank them, asking repeatedly for a china cup. It became serious when it was noticed that she was becoming dehydrated. Her wish was granted. Such a seeming little thing and yet so significant for her. 

The Lead Nurse of the Commission, Stephen Smith, recommends setting up a programme to showcase 'best practice' rather than an evaluation leading to a string of criticisms. Edinburgh Napier University together with a local NHS Trust set about reimplementing teaching of care in daily nursing activities, aware that it is often squeezed out. 

Leadership is essential in bringing back compassion into care. and Prof Dame Joan Stringer of Edinburgh Napier University is recognising the importance of this making sure it is highlighted in the training they provide.

Further south it seems that non-clinical experts have had to bring it to our attention. Perhaps professionals have gone over board on academia, anxious to further their career rather than improve quaility of life for those under our care.