Last Monday saw the 4th International Conference titled ‘Inspiring Hearts in Healthcare’ conference organised by Ms Mary Prendergast, Director of Nursing at St. Patrick’s Hospital take place in the Cashel Palace Hotel to discuss compassion in healthcare.
As well as the distinguished speakers, some of whom travelled from overseas, over 70 health care professionals gathered in the hotel’s long room for an event which appears to established itself on the conference calendar.
Following on from the themes of previous years the conference was designed to open up avenues along in which health care professionals can re-humanise a system which appears to have lost its compassion due to the sheer pace of work, multiple competing demands, the de-humanising effect of much medical technology all of which are compounded by the current financial crisis.
Some of the main speakers at the Cashel conference were Ms. Mary Prendergast, Director of Nursing, St. Patrick’s Hospital, Cashel, Professor John Crown, Irish Consultant Oncologist and Politician; Mr Jason Leitch, National Clinical Lead in Scottish Government; Mr Joe Griffin, Psychologist; Dom Mark P Hederman, OSB, Abbot of Glenstal Abbey; Dr Stephen Smith, Mr Michael Brophy, Barrister, Dr Helen Chin and Ms Gayle Garland of University of Leeds and Dr Hilary Dunne, ISQSH.
Professor John Crown addressed the audience with his view on how to measure quality improvements in healthcare ‘Use data to show quality improvements in a way that is understandable and engages everyone’.
The three components of patient centred care were shared with attendees by Mr Jason Leitch, National Clinical Lead for Patient Safety and Improvement at the Scottish Government. These being ‘patient and family experience, staff experience and co-production’. Mr Joe Griffin, of Mindfields College, UK (Psychologist and CEO) highlighted that for compassion, ‘emotional needs such as security, attention, control and autonomy need to be met’. ‘To understand what patients feel about their treatment and experiences is important’ felt Abbot of Glenstal Abbey, Dom Mark P Hederman.
CEO of the Irish Society for Quality and Safety in Healthcare (‘ISQSH’), Dr Hilary Dunne released some preliminary results of a healthcare survey entitled ‘The State of Compassion in Healthcare in Ireland’ at the conference. In her closing speech of the conference, Dr Dunne spoke of a personal experience of how she believes compassion makes a difference to Irish patients healthcare. She stated that “compassion was an important aspect for patients in terms of their healthcare experience”. She said that “It’s the willingness to see me as a person, to understand I am here not because I want to be, but because I have to be. It’s seeing that at this time, this is not a true reflection of me. It’s the understanding that I am facing some of my worst fears, worrying about my dignity and respect, and at a time when I am not well”. She summed compassion up as the “reassurance that you will do your job professionally and safely but whilst caring for me with dignity, respect and above all that you will treat me as you yourself would like to be treated if you were in my position”.