Compassion in nursing: Solution or stereotype?
Tierney S., Bivins R., Seers K.
© 2018 The Authors Nursing Inquiry Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Compassion in healthcare has received significant attention recently, on an international scale, with concern raised about its absence during clinical interactions. As a concept, compassionate care has been linked to nursing. We examined historical discourse on this topic, to understand and situate current debates on compassionate care as a hallmark of high-quality services. Documents we looked at illustrated how responsibility for delivering compassionate care cannot be consigned to individual nurses. Health professionals must have the right environmental circumstances to be able to provide and engage in compassionate interactions with patients and their relatives. Hence, although compassionate care has been presented as a straightforward solution when crisis faces health services, this discourse, especially in policy documents, has often failed to acknowledge the system-level issues associated with its provision. This has resulted in simplistic presentations of ‘compassion’ as inexpensive and the responsibility of individual nurses, a misleading proposal that risks devaluing the energy and resources required to deliver compassionate care. It also overlooks the need for organisations, not just individuals, to be charged with upholding its provision.