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Instilling compassion into care

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Nursing is no longer the compassionate profession it used to be, according to a number of high profile reports and emotive stories in the national media.

Staff shortages, an emphasis on targets and the evolution of nursing into a degree profession have all been blamed for impacting negatively on patient care.

Last year, a report by NHS Ombudsman Ann Abraham, entitled Care and Compassion, criticised the treatment of elderly people across the NHS. In one example, a patient arrived at a care home 'bruised, soaked in urine, dishevelled, and wearing someone else's clothes' after being discharged from hospital.

And at the end of February, the interim report from the Commission on Dignity in Care for Older People concluded that too many vulnerable people were being 'let down' by the NHS and made 48 recommendations to promote the importance of dignified care.

Among these was a call for universities teaching nursing courses to ensure applicants were equipped with 'both the academic qualifications and the compassionate values needed to provide dignified care'.

The commission stressed students should have dignity instilled into their thinking and practice from their first day in nursing while bodies such as the NMC must ensure training programmes, including those delivering post-qualification courses, reinforce the provision of dignified care.

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