A Rock of Compassion


Apologies for the poor picture quality – these are the wonderful people who work at Rock House.

I was privileged to spend a day at Rock House care home in Buckinghamshire on the 22nd of February. Being with everyone for the day had a ‘meant to be’ kind of quality as it was the day after the slightly surreal experience of appearing on BBC Breakfast to speak about compassion in nursing and because it felt SO LIKE the care home I spent part of my childhood in (Woodbury, near Hereford run by mum and dad). I was asked to offer two compassion seminars for the team at Rock House and I learnt far more than I taught.

We always ask people to say why they do what they do:-

“I give love to people who may not feel loved at the end of their lives.”

Sue Foster – care giver

In the time between the two seminars the team kindly invited me to lunch. A lady came into the kitchen clearly disoriented and distressed, crying and repeating that she needed help. Sue (quoted above) took the lady in her arms and held her, saying that she was lovely and was doing really well and that all would be fine. She took the ladies hands in her own and comofrted her, without  further words, just giving an affirming presence and kindness.

I spoke about this on the radio a few days after because it is rare for me to see such compassionate care in action. I often witness a catastrophic loss of confidence in care giving as we have become so pre-occupied with resident and patient safety that we may have forgotten that what really keeps us safe is having people in our lives who care deeply about us. It seems to be to be a tragedy when people who work in care giving jobs to show compassion are prevented from doing so.

Compassion is where kindness meets suffering and we are encouraged to flourish. Compassion is nurtured and celebrated at Rock House.

All of health and social care can be consistently compassionate. We just need to make sure that its heart in the right place.

I always love to hear your comments on compassion in care giving.

Thank you for your interest and encouragement



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2 Responses to A Rock of Compassion

  1. begethers says:

    Heather, thank you for your comment, your insight and your leadership – all are precious

  2. It was wonderful to read of the compassion shown by the care worker at Rock House. It reminds me of a book I am reading at the moment by a French psychologist called Marie de Hennezel. The book is called “Seize the Day” and is a true account of working with people at the end of life and she talks about the importance of touch and love and yet we are often frightened to do this because of overstepping our professional boundaries. Our work is in domiciliary care and I was recently talking to a service user who had become agorophobic after a series of traumas in her life. She was telling me that with the help of her regular carer she is now able to go out again. The first time she managed to leave the house was for a hospital appointment and she told me how her carer had encouraged her prior to the appointment, building her self confidence and displaying total confidence in the lady’s ability to meet the challenge. The day after she had successfully attended the appointment her care worker came in and gave her a big hug and told her how proud she felt of her. The lady told me that this meant the whole world to her. There are some schools of thought that would say that I, as her manager, should discourage that type of physical contact, but I know that this worker has a natural gift for this type of work and I am not going to stifle her intuitive behaviour which has proved so beneficial to someone she looks after.

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