Donors fund Compassion in Healthcare


Masterclass on Compassion in Care

St Vincent’s Foundation funded a Masterclass on Compassion in Care on 20th April 2015 in St. Vincent’s University Hospital.  Nora Ellard & Ian Callanan summarise the day below.

Group photo

Speakers at Masterclass with John Hickey

 Ian Callanan, Clinical Audit Facilitator for St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group welcomed attendees to the meeting, encouraging everybody to reflect on the content and to contemplate the mission of healthcare.

Prof. Mary Duff, Director of Nursing in St. Vincent’s University Hospital opened the proceedings, reminding us that the hospital was founded 180 years ago in the month of April by Mary Aikenhead.  She spoke about the values of the hospital and the expectation that each person working in the hospital would strive to live these values.  In particular she referred to kindness as being gentle to others and not expecting anything in return.

Paul Gallagher President of the Irish Nursing and Midwifery Board chaired the remainder of the morning sessions.  Mr Gallagher, in his opening address, also spoke about the components of care to patients that encompass the holistic approach to quality healthcare. Mr Gallagher then introduced Dr Paul D’Alton, Senior Clinical Psychologist and Head and Clinical Lead of the Psycho-Oncology department with St. Vincent’s University Hospital.

Dr D’Alton gave an intriguing presentation.  His opening lines spoke about “When Compassion Hurts”.  Dr D’Alton told us about John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory,  “From the moment we are born our brains are biologically predetermined to respond to care and kindness of others” .

In keeping with the title of the Masterclass, Dr D’Alton spoke about Compassion which is currently getting a lot of attention in literature and popular culture.  Compassion is not about cultivating nice feelings for other people

Paul D'Alton

Dr. Paul D’Alton

In his final words Dr D’Alton told us not all pain can be fixed.  In the flow of life we didn’t choose to be born or anything else in fact.  We need to develop our own capacity for attention.  Only then we can develop compassion.

Mr Gallagher then welcomed Professor Brendan Drumm, Professor of Paediatrics at UCD and former CEO of HSE, who told the audience that most people who enter healthcare do so to make a difference.  However, people get caught up in structures and processes.  Prof Drumm spoke about the care of patients, interventions and medicine.  In modern medicine he felt that over-intervention is an abuse of care. There are no quick fixes in healthcare.  Achieving change will involve Government and society.

Mr Gallagher then introduced Ms Chrissie McGinn & Mr Richard Hewitt.  They have worked as Wisborough Transformation for over 20 years providing courses, workshops and coaching programmes for leadership personal & spiritual development.  Ms McGinn commenced by telling the audience that people who come in to Healthcare willingly end up doing non caring duties.

Mary Duff & Paul Gallagher

Prof. Mary Duff & Mr. Paul Gallagher

The final speaker of the morning was Professor Anabel Pelham,  President of the National Association of Professional Gerontologists and professor and founding director of the Gerontology Program at San Francisco State University.  Prof Pelham started by referring to Anam Cara and spiritual wisdom stemming from our Celtic world and Celtic imagination.  She spoke about the possibility of bringing healing art to healthcare.  She referred to creating caring communities and age friendly cities.  Under her leadership some cities in Silicon Valley have created CAFÉs (Centre for Age Friendly Excellence).

The day was an enormous success.  The audience came away with a deeper understanding of the challenges of caring of self and caring for others, with a greater realisation of the challenges but with a stock of evidence and tools to better manage the gaps “when compassion hurts”.

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