“The team needs to feel cared for”: staff perceptions of compassionate care, aids and barriers in adolescent mental health wards

Lucy Maddox, Manuela Barreto

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Abstract

Background
Compassion is vital in healthcare. Current understandings of the nature of compassionate care, its aids and barriers, are more theoretically developed than grounded in staff experience. This study explores staff perceptions of compassionate care in child and adolescent mental health wards.

Methods
Three focus groups were conducted with a total of 35 staff from adolescent mental health wards (10–12 people in each group), on the nature of compassionate care, aids and barriers. Transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. A follow-up survey with 36 workers from other UK child and adolescent mental health wards was completed and means and standard deviations of responses were analysed to confirm wider resonance of themes.

Results
Elements of compassionate care fell into six themes relating to individual, team and organisational factors: emotional connection, sense of being valued, attention to the whole person, understanding, good communication, and practical help/resources. Aids and barriers mirrored each other, and showed that what staff think is key to the nature of compassionate care for patients is also what they feel they need to receive to be able to show compassionate care.

Conclusions
This study suggests that staff need the same elements of compassion as those which they seek to provide. A greater emphasis needs to be placed on providing staff with individual, team and organisational level resources which help them to feel compassionately held within the interconnected systems in which they work, in order to be able to continue to provide high level compassionate care. Staff need to be nourished, valued and compassionately cared for in order to be able to care compassionately for the patients they look after.
Original languageEnglish
Article number206
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBMC Nursing
Volume21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • compassion, CAMHS, staff wellbeing, patient care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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