The courage to be kind: Reflecting on the role of kindness in the healthcare response to COVID-19

The Carnegie UK Trust has published The courage to be kind: Reflecting on the role of kindness in the healthcare response to COVID-19, a report that draws on a number of personal experiences of working in the NHS in Scotland during the pandemic, and considers what these might mean for health and social care renewal.

At the start of 2020 there was a gathering momentum to conversations about the role of kindness and compassion in health and social care in Scotland. When COVID-19 happened, the healthcare system entered a period of rapid transformation in which many of the previously insurmountable ‘barriers’ to kindness appeared to fall away. In this context, it felt important to capture what was happening.

The courage to be kind draws on a series of reflective conversations, conducted between April and September 2020 with five medics working in different parts of NHS Scotland. The conversations reflected on what can be achieved when there is a common purpose, and when work is underpinned by relationships and collaboration. But alongside the opportunities presented by changes in practice and a renewed focus on wellbeing, there was concern that these may be lost amidst a focus on remobilising and ‘getting back to normal’.

The voices in this report offer a particular perspective. But the depth of reflection, and the clear message about the need to ease some of the pressure in the system in order to ensure the wellbeing of staff and patients is one that resonates with many other conversations and is relevant and urgent right across the health service.

At the end of a year that has demanded so much from our health service, we hope that this report adds to our collective understanding of the impact of COVID-19. As we look to develop this work, we would really value your thoughts and reflections, which you can share with or by joining the debate on twitter @CarnegieUKTrust.

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