Are You Delivering On Your Promise? How to Make Compassionate Care a Reality
Why compassion is the most important quality to foster among your home care staff
Compassion is a necessary trait for anyone who works in the healthcare or home care field. Clients are in a vulnerable position. Some are in pain, some don’t like the idea of having to depend on someone else, and many need care as the result of a major life change.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to experience a lack of compassion from healthcare providers. According to a 2019 survey of medical patients, 71% said they experienced a lack of compassion when they spoke to a medical professional. Not only does this hurt the client, it hurts the business too: 47% said a poor interaction with a medical professional meant they would not return to that practice.
Extensive research also indicates that compassionate care leads to better health outcomes for the client. And according to Emma Seppälä, the science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, “compassion is a natural tendency” in humans, and exercising compassion can actually be good for our health.
Compassion in home care is different
Every healthcare practitioner must exercise compassion in their work, and with home caregivers, that need is even greater. Healthcare is a personal act, and when that care takes place in clients’ homes, that interaction becomes an even more personal one.
Clients may be self-conscious about their homes or living situations or their need for personal care services, and many are experiencing life changes that interrupt their sense of identity and autonomy. Empathy and understanding can create a powerful emotional bond between caregiver and client.
Home care agencies must work to avoid cold, transactional interactions with clients and their families.
Elements of compassionate care
- Listening first, speaking second. Caregivers and home care agency staff who are willing to slow down and understand client needs are more likely to be effective caregivers and problem solvers.
- Answering patient questions, even for the hundredth time. Patience is a virtue necessary to all who work in healthcare. Elderly patients or patients with cognitive impairments may need things repeated, often in different ways, and family members of clients need to be kept in the loop about their loved one’s care needs, like medication management and changes in their care plan. The more your staff is comfortable with answering questions ad nauseum, the better.
- Being forgiving of mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves forgiveness when they do.
- Looking for the best in others. The ability to see goodness in everyone is a necessary building block.
- The best caregivers have high emotional intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as recognize and influence the emotions of those around you,” and it’s 90% of what sets high-performers apart from their peers.
- Self-compassion. Being compassionate with others goes hand-in-hand with being kind toward oneself.
The hardest part of being compassionate is when someone has wronged you not by mistake, but intentionally or because of carelessness. That’s where empathy comes in: staff need to understand the circumstances that cause people to behave poorly. Your home care team must learn to exercise compassion even when it’s most difficult.
How to cultivate compassion in your home care staff
Compassion is key to the success of your agency, which means more than your caregivers must cultivate this virtue. The business executives, clinical leadership, scheduling coordinators, and marketers—everyone—should be held to the highest standards of care.
- Set the example. Demonstrate compassionate care at the highest levels of your organization. This means treating your employees with kindness and understanding when they need support and encouraging your employees to be compassionate with themselves.
- Make it one of your core values. Underscore the importance of compassion with your caregivers and staff by making it one of your core values, and therefore your priorities.
- Recognize compassionate behavior. When one of your employees demonstrates compassionate behavior, recognize it to them and among their colleagues, and reward it with things like extra time off, gift cards, and agency awards. Encourage your staff to call out kindness and empathy when they see it in their colleagues.
- Train your staff in compassion. Yep, researchers at Pennsylvania State University say it can be done. This might include things like meditation, self-calming techniques, and visualization practices. Simply learning to recognize compassion is an exercise in developing it within ourselves.
- Make it acceptable to admit and rectify mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and workers need to feel comfortable admitting when they mess up. Create a space in which the desire to make things right is rewarded, not penalized.
- Encourage your staff to set intentions for their care. Neuroscience research indicates that meditation can develop our sense of compassion, and intention-setting is part of a regular meditation practice. Remind your care staff with regular communication touchpoints—emails, text messages, and app notifications. Present the reminders in different ways so the message stays fresh. Ask them: How have you experienced compassion today? How will you exercise compassion today?
- Ask your clients to rate your caregivers’ compassion. The next time you survey your clients, ask them to rate the level of compassion they receive from their caregiver(s). Use the information not to penalize, but to find room for improvement.
- Make it part of your home care marketing. If compassion is foundational to your way of caring for clients, make it a part of your brand messaging and be prepared to demonstrate it with client reviews, case studies, and company policies. You might even tell potential clients that it’s a behavior you reward.
- Encourage your employees to be compassionate with themselves. Exercising patience, compassion, and understanding begins with oneself. Encourage your staff to be kind to themselves.
How can Home Care Marketing Pros help?
While we can't provide the compassionate and kind care that you do, we can help you create a warm and inviting online presence that helps reflect your personal touch! From websites to personalized automation, our digital marketing tools can do a lot! Contact us to find out more.