Compassionate Care

Written by: Heather Edwards, Interim Head of Improvement Support, Care Inspectorate

Published: 12/03/2019

Heather Edwards writes about the importance of compassionate care. Get in touch if you have any stories of compassion and kindness.

I am part of a group of people in the Care Inspectorate (this link will take you away from our website) and the Scottish Social Services Council (this link will take you away from our website) taking forward work to develop a resource exploring compassion. We are partnering with colleagues and stakeholders from many organisations across Scotland. We are currently putting out a call to gather stories of compassion and kindness from people experiencing care and from those working in social care. We hope to start a national conversation, to be inspired and moved, we want to show how compassion is more than often given without recognising it for what it is, but for those on the receiving end it is central to how they perceive their care. Over the coming months we will be sharing stories through social media which will contribute to a resource which will highlight the importance of compassionate care. We might also bust some of the myths around how we relate to people who experience care as well as how we care for ourselves and our colleagues.

One of the first times I ever heard Tommy Whitelaw speak, he told the story of how a district nurse walked up his stairs while he was bathing his mum and changed their lives by showing compassion. Compassion often comes to life through the relationships we have with people around us. When these relationships are based on empathy, respect and dignity, compassion is given and received. The impact when we reach out to the people around us with compassion and kindness often goes further than we may ever be aware of.

Compassion can be given in the briefest of moments, with a smile or reassuring touch. We want to explore why sometimes compassion has been missing, as well as some of the beliefs and myths that people have about the caring relationship. Compassion may come easier when we have a natural connection to a person or situation that we find ourselves in, but what about when there is disagreement and tension? This is when we are asked to show compassion and kindness unconditionally.

There is a place for compassion in every aspect of our lives, in the way we support and care for people, how we get along with our co-workers and most definitely if we manage people, how we do that. Importantly there is also the way in which we show compassion to ourselves, it can be difficult to be compassionate to those around us when we are running on empty ourselves.

The Health and Social Care Standards have compassion as one of the five underpinning principles and they described what should be expected by those experiencing care and support.


  • I experience warm, compassionate and nurturing care and support.
  • My care is provided by people who understand and are sensitive to my needs and my wishes.

We are keen to hear about compassion across all age ranges and service types and if you have a story of compassion to share with us please send it to compassionate.care@careinspectorate.gov.scot

You can follow Heather at @HeatherAHP (this link will take you away from our website).

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