Small Moments for Compassion
By Andy Probolus MD FAAFP –
I try more and more to be aware for the small moments during the course of clinical work that can be moments for providing compassionate presence to another. Our attention is automatically on the patients who stand at the center of care we provide. What cannot be lost however is the presence brought to the other caregivers. Finding a way to help them be calmer, more relaxed and positive about the care they are providing can have a multiplicative effect on the compassion we are able to create, especially in institutional settings such as hospitals and nursing homes. Helping to care for caregivers, paid and unpaid is a big part of what I feel hospice and palliative medicine brings to the culture of medicine.
So some of the small ways to provide these moments:
- Simple undivided attention and listening
- Awareness and acknowledgement of the difficulties involved in caregiving
- Gently reframing situations when things start to turn negative.
- Bearing witness to suffering and moral distress, especially when it is unmodifiable.
Beyond just amplifying the effects of our compassion, these techniques soften caregivers and gives them an invitation to act different. This works even with the most notoriously difficult group to influence, physicians! Never underestimate the power of these moments to change someone’s day and reinvigorate the care they provide.