Healthcare is filled with pressure of providing high productivity and compassionate care at the same time; it’s easy to become jaded and callous.

Compassion and Productivity are not mutually exclusive, but it is a hard balance.

As the years pass and stress takes its toll, I have seen nurses and therapists become hardened. Their once tender approach evolves into a mechanical delivery. Productivity is consistently highlighted because it drives the dollar for your company. However, compassion is not as frequently focused on by management.

So, consider this my encouragement to notice the compassion around you and celebrate it. May it fuel your drive to deliver compassionate and efficient care.

I met a 70-year-old woman who has been taking care of her 93-year-old mother, for the past five years due to dementia. My patient, the 93 year old, sits in the living room with sweater donned even though it’s 80 degrees outside. She just returned home from the hospital from congestive heart failure and has suffered recent falls. She greets me with a smile and hearty handshake.

As I run through my home health evaluation, I begin to see the compassion and love the daughter has for my patient. The beauty is evident in the way her daughter overlooks the repetitive comments. Throughout my evaluation, the patient consistently repeated the question, “What can you do for an old lady that is so dumb?”

The daughter would patiently respond, “Mom, you are not dumb, it is just that your memory is not as good as it used to be. It’s ok.” The daughter’s response would send a wave of relief on the patient’s face. But a few minutes later, the furrowed brow would return and she would ask me again, “Why am I so dumb now? I used to be so sharp.”

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This is not the only experience of compassion and love. In the past month I saw a friend take in another friend. This friend opened her home and provided encouragement, accountability and physical assist for her friend. I have witnessed spouses and significant others taking time off work to assist in the recovery of a loved one. I’ve seen a husband cleaning the bedside commode after assisting his spouse to the bathroom. I have seen garages filled with extra furniture that was moved out to make room for a loved one that couldn’t live independently anymore. I have been present when spouses call their loved one to check in to determine if they took their medications.

Compassion is evident, but it takes an open heart and an intentionality to see it.

Healthcare is full of change and the demands to document more, test more, validate more all increase the stress. This stress leaches into our attitudes about work and eventually into how we service our patients. I encourage you to take time and notice the compassion that you see in your patients, their families and your co-workers. Celebrate the compassion that you see. May you be encouraged to listen, empathize, smile and enjoy your work. May you remember the reason you chose this field – because you want to help people.

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