Pecularities of the Feeling of Compassion

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The term compassion, especially in the last decade (Gilbert, 2010, pg. 1) has been at the core of healthcare planning. However, the word compassion can have different meanings, depending on culture, and setting. In the Western world for example, compassion is commonly “considered to be empathy for the suffering of others and help to overcome it” (Shea, Wynyard & Lionis, 2014).

Compassion relationship-centred-care, therefore, involves forming therapeutic relationships that emphasise concerns and compassionate responses to patients, family or physician’s own suffering (Stevenson, 2002) albeit “its meaning and how it works in practice is not yet clear (Dewar, 2013). Dewar & Nalon (2013) theorised that, compassion relationship-centred care serves as a guide to help practitioners to traditionalise compassion in healthcare, based on shared patient/physician personal and relational information, contrary to the “tradition of doctor-centred care” (Stevenson, 2002) of the yester years. Against the complexities that compassion relationship centred-care presents to healthcare, often dominated by concerns about targets, skill and efficiency (Dewar, 2013), it has helped to reduce malpractices and investigations within the industry (Stevenson, 2002).

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Early stages of therapy are very often sensitive, therefore, mutual trust between patient and nurse guarantees that information shared between the two, helps to minimise the fears often associated with certain illnesses. Evidently, patients respond quickly to therapy, and more effectively manage long-term disorders when they fell that that they have been treated kindly and compassionately by healthcare staff (Shea, Wynyard & Lionis, 2014). In a letter to trainee nurses, Florence Nightingale once said, “it is what the nurse is inside that counts, the rest is only the outward shell or envelop” (Middleton, 2011). And the ultimate test of Nightingale’s ethos has come during times of war. In 1854, Nightingale and thirty-eight other nurses left England, for the battle fields of Crimea (D’Antonia, 2002)

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