Tag: health

Fake compassion (in)action?

Organisations, Values No Comments

I am just back from Sweden, where I found all train, hotel and airport staff hugely kind and helpful.  I loved the cheery greetings of ‘hay’.  I was so struck by the culture that I looked on Google to see if online troll-like behaviours, or ODE, were less likely in the land of the Trolls .  Sadly I couldn’t find anything to support this hunch!

However, when on the train to the airport (with phenomenally fast internet speeds, by the way), someone sent me this piece on compassion in health care from the Daily Mail.  At the end of the piece, I note some comments verge on the uncivil – and interestingly the ‘worst’ rated comments are the ones supporting Dr Smajdor (with some of the early trollish ones apparently removed at the time of publishing this blog).

Having read the piece, it makes me wonder more about what the vilified author was actualy trying to convey.  For me, the piece made me reflect on the difference between compassion (a feeling) and kindness (an act).

You might know of our interest in compassion in health care, at www.idenk.com/compassion from 2008 and this, a bit more recently. Actually, with hindsight, we would have probably been much better to be part of a social movement for greater warmth and kindness…and maybe the NHS Constitution is not that helpful using the ‘C’ word.


Some days it is hard to feel compassion (even after hours of mindfulness or Buddhist meditation)….and some people are hard to love at any time.

So kindness is good enough.

Actually this is true in all sectors: civility and helpfulness is the benchmark in a shop or restaurant too. The author Caitlin Moran argues that at the heart of all civil rights movements is the demand to be nice to each other. US academic Bob Sutton points out that jerks in teams are the bane of organisational life.

So all any of us need to do (in any sector and any role), is to act kindly to our customers and co-workers – act warmly, even if frustrated.  This is something I have personally learnt (and keep relearning) the hard way (!) through conflicts and judgements I would now rather avoid.

And what we might find is, that when we overrule our emotions with our logic (as in CBT), our feelings actually change.

For a few decades now, in western countries, we have all had to to be nice in public to those who are gay or from a minority ethnic community, for example. I don’t think it is unrelated that now opinion polls support gay marriage and we are more tolerant to people with different non-white skin colour.

This ‘fake it till you make it’ route might work in health care too…

…in today’s UK health system, post Mid Staffs, it is increasingly the case that staff are no longer allowed to appear unkind. However, it should be ok not to feel compassion I reckon – and be open about this in 1:1 supervisions, for example (honesty that will help avoid burnout and cynicism along the way too).  This act first (and feel it later) approach will end up shifting the culture faster, I predict.  And if you are doing this surrounded by colleagues acting the same, it actually might be quite easy…

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Venn in Action: The Australian Beer Trick

LearningStyles No Comments

This is a blog about healthy eating (and drinking)…both informed by conversations and articles read in Australia earlier this year. Maybe some ideas to SWP (steal with pride)?  You decide.

[Health warning – this might seem a bit surreal after some recent ‘heavy’ topics. But in the words of the film, ‘Notting Hill’, hopefully “Surreal, but nice!”]

One thing I am finding helpful is what I call the 4:3 nutrition rule…not the 2 day a week fasting diet fad. Nor the ‘no booze during the week’ mantra. Rather, thinking of a few things to avoid Monday to Thursday…such as wheat products (bread and beer). Seems to work really well for fine tuning the balance between exercise and ingestion.

One thing that has wheat in it, is beer. I play drums in a band. I like drinking beer when gigging. I drum up quite a thirst – literally, but don’t want too much beer (alcohol and calories that is – the fluid is ok). A leading Australian educationalist shared with me the idea of diluting beer with soda water…a tip I find very useful. See what you (or someone you know who likes beer) makes of what I call The Oz Beer Trick. It works on the basis of the boiling frog analogy – how we don’t really notice subtle changes going on around us. It works with cocktails too – and I think I can use with wine if I am careful.

So what is it and how does it work?

1) Order a pint of soda or sparkling water with your beer (soda water is free in most pubs in the UK).

2) As you drink the beer top up the glass with soda every couple of mouthfuls.

3) The Beer gets progressively weaker, but in a way that you don’t really notice.

4) You end up having what feels like 2 pints of beer, but is in fact one.

5) You get to just over 1% alcohol, but don’t really notice the weaker taste…the impact is still there, it is almost homeopathic.

If you want a bit more on the maths behind this, let me know and I will share a spread sheet!


And why “Venn in Action”? – two reasons

1) The band and beer angle of the main text

2) And I am in Australia at the moment – and have a band practice next Monday when home – but sans beer (as it is a Monday : ))


For those who like Venn thinking – you will love this.

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A checklist in action

Think No Comments

Thanks to The Health Foundation for encouraging and publishing this blog – in response to media coverage about The Liverpool Care Pathway (in reality a checklist designed to improve the reliability of care at the end of life).

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Healthcare – a totem for others worries?

Reflect No Comments

Over the last couple of years we have had some particularly prominent news cycles:

–          the personal (Jade, Jordan and The Wedding)

–          the political (banks/bonuses, student loans, the truth on climate)

In some ways, these are possibly inflated in prominence by surrounding fears – of recession, personal futures, etc.lansley bill poster

Now there is a story that is both personal and political: the NHS and Andrew Lansley have become top news.

This rap has gone viral.

This leaflet was being circulated at a school fundraiser last week.

And now ‘The Pause’ in the health reforms.

Are the NHS changes emblematic of other concerns – a Totem to project wider worries onto?

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Achieving the change

Do No Comments

Two and a bit weeks into the new year…do any of these sayings help? All draw inspiration from positive psychology.

“Motivation follows action”

“First you make your habits, then your habits make you”

“Fake it till you make it!”

“Put our behaviours where we want them, then our mind and heart will catch up”

“First hands, then head and heart”

Finally, from Ghandi…”be the change you wish to see in the world” (but that is possibly another story).

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Focus and relaxation

Plan No Comments

PlanePlanes have been in the news recently with the exhibition at Tate Britain (which is even more impressive in reality).

In this photo (with a great headline from The Sun), we see one member of a team of two with total focus, flying low through a valley. Meanwhile, the other is (for that moment) able to relax.

Managing the pace of work is a key element of what it means to be part of a team that is on the front foot.

See this on getting the balance right here.

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Today : tomorrow

Think No Comments

Climate change / The Hybrid Car / Global warning / Renewable electricity   :    the possibilities beyond Peak Oil.

Patient demands / The best of medical practice /  Government targets / Compassion  :   The potential beyond today’s reality.

Challenge / Response / Change / Hope   :   The solutions a problem can create.

The old ways /  The Demand for new solutions /  Anxiety and Pain / Ideas and Acceptance   :   Something new and better will come.

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