Professor Keith Brown talks about compassionate healthcare

Posted on Wednesday, January 30 2013

Professor Keith Brown, director of the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work at BU, has commented on what compassionate leadership means for health-related care.

In an opinion piece in the Health Service Journal, Professor Brown argues that, with the backdrop of health-related care scandals, “self-leadership holds the key to fostering compassionate organisations.”

He says: “The vast majority come into the professions to make a difference, not to beat people up, to be cruel, or to deprive people of their dignity.”

But he added: “With increasing demands and pressure placed on professionals, staff can easily feel stressed, demoralised and trapped – unable to see the wood for the trees and unable to make the best decisions under pressure.”

Professor Brown suggests that high quality leadership is important to ensure that professionals are able to exercise better professional judgement, and lead in such a way that creates an environment where abuse of any kind is not tolerated.

He says: “It might seem obvious now, but leadership development really does need to occur in the context of health and social care. We are not making or selling widgets but caring for some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“Therefore it is vital to make sure leadership development is relevant and delivered by professionals with sector experience.”

Professor Brown says that the answer is not the development of new strategies and theories, but with ‘self-leadership.’

He states: “Self-leadership focuses on an “inside out” solution involving everyone, not simply the leader by title.

“Self-leadership is about tapping into an innate wisdom, an internal resilience of human potential of knowing; creating perspective when it counts, and reducing the impact of being overwhelmed. It is about professionals with the ability to react with flexibility at those crunch moments, able to judge with wisdom rooted in real-world evidence based practice.”

He concludes by saying that, while there may have been well reported cases of unacceptable care recently, “the vast majority of professionals have a deep desire to make a difference and to care.

“What they need is support and development to help them cope more effectively with the ever-increasing pressures on them.

“Self-leadership that is assessed has been shown to be a real and valuable way to support these staff.”

Find out more about the National Centre for Post-Qualifying Social Work