We launched our vision for nurses and midwives, called Compassion in Practice, back in December. It outlines the values every nurse or midwife should work to, known as the ‘six Cs’. This concept has caught the attention of caring staff everywhere. The six Cs - care, compassion, competence, communication, courage and commitment - are the core elements of our vision. We wanted to reinforce the values that attract people to nursing and midwifery, and the qualities that the general public take for granted that we all have.
While each of the six Cs are equal, it is care and compassion which seem to stick out, especially when set against the backdrop of the inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
The Compassion in Practice document, when defining care and compassion, says:
Care is our core business and that of our organisations, and the care we deliver helps the individual person and improves the health of the whole community. Caring defines us and our work. People receiving care expect it to be right for them, consistently, throughout every stage of their life.
Compassion is how care is given through relationships based on empathy, respect and dignity - it can also be described as intelligent kindness, and is central to how people perceive their care.
The apparent lack of compassion shown by staff at the Stafford Hospital has shocked both the public and people in the profession. Compassion comes naturally to the over- whelming majority of nurses and caring professionals; I can say that with confidence, because I have seen it first hand over the last 30 years.
What we are trying to achieve with the six Cs is to reaffirm those qualities and standards so that the public know what they can expect from nurses and carers, and those in the profession are aware that no matter how nursing changes, those six values remain at the core.
The reality is that there are some nurses who do not have the capacity to be compassionate and truly care, despite training and support. They have no place in the NHS. We only want nurses who come to work to make a difference for their patients and are prepared to take personal responsibility for individuals in their care.
Along with colleagues at the NHS Commissioning Board, we are now setting out the next steps to ensure that where compassion is lacking it is restored to its rightful place in the day-to-day work of nurses and carers.
A set of tools will be developed to enable organisations to
‘The six Cs reaffirm these qualities and standards so that the public know what they can expect from nurses’ measure their culture. This will help them to look at what they need to do to reemphasise the importance of compassion, as well as the other five Cs.
Getting the patient/staff ratio right is essential when delivering care. To help put this in place a series of tools are being developed to determine, locally, the most appropriate staffing levels for a particular health and social care setting that reflects and delivers quality of care, productivity and a good patient or user experience. Other areas of work include putting in place a system which involves providing supervision and support within a culture of care, compassion and a recognition of the emotional labour of nursing, midwifery and care giving - ensuring that health employers aim for 90% coverage of all staff with their local appraisal system, and that staff self-report that this is of a high quality 80% of the time.
Jane Cummings is the Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England.
In this role, she is the professional lead for nurses and midwives in England and she will oversee quality improvements in patient safety and patient experience.
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