Kindness matters

Zoe Youl, Nurse Planner/Online Education Manager, Ausmed
good vibes only

Most nurses and midwives would agree that kindness is critical. Kindness makes a considerable difference to the emotional wellbeing of people at times when they are often most vulnerable.

What is kindness?

Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. We’re all likely to have different perspectives on what kindness means to us. In nursing and midwifery, though, many examples of kindness resonate broadly.

In the Nurse and Midwife Support KINDNESS podcast, Mark Aitken, Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Nurse & Midwife Support, invited Elle Brown, Senior Clinician with NM Support (and a great friend, former colleague and mentor of mine) to consider this very topic. You can listen to the podcast here.

On reflection, kindness to me is very much connected to enablement, opportunities and culture. I’ve been blessed to work with kind, generous, flexible and supportive colleagues and leaders. This helps me to thrive. For many years I combined both clinical and non-clinical roles. I worked clinically in an Intensive Care Unit and as a Nurse Planner at Ausmed Education. It was only through kindness, support and generosity that I could do both. Both workplaces promote kindness as a core value that ensures kindness is at the heart of our actions.

Let’s dig a little deeper. 

What does kindness mean to you? 

I asked two colleagues (both nurses). They said:

  • “Kindness in nursing requires taking the time to have a conversation with your patient and avoid assuming their answers to your questions.” 
  • “Kindness is displayed through our actions, body language and tone.”
  • “It should be given regardless of if your kindness receives recognition or makes a difference - as you never know when it might just make the difference for someone.”

What are examples of kindness?

What are some examples of kindness in nursing and midwifery that stand out to you? Again, I asked my colleagues. 

They offered great examples of acts of kindness:

  • Taking the time to learn a favorite song to play for a person with dementia.
  • Taking care to address patients and staff by their name.
  • Asking a colleague — “do you need a hand?” 
  • Arranging platters of food for families and friends when patients are receiving end-of-life care.
  • Facilitating clinical support nurses to hold debriefs as an opportunity to resolve stress and let nurses talk about their feelings and emotions, to prevent bottling them up!

In our podcast, I relished the opportunity to recall some of the numerous examples of kindness I have witnessed among my colleagues. Kindness helps patients receive exceptional holistic care. For example, my colleagues: 

  • advocate for people not to be rushed out of ICU before they were ready, 
  • ensure staff are allocated the time to wash patients’ hair,
  • encourage staff to take patients outside for fresh air, no matter how long it takes to arrange, and 
  • take the time to listen to staff, patient and family concerns. 

Do we have to have time to be kind? 

In short: yes. It might not be easy, but it’s important to make time for kindness. 

Isn’t it interesting that time and kindness seem to go hand in hand? Is time necessary for us to be kind? 

In the podcast, I reflected on the changing nature of nursing and midwifery. We are practicing at very different times. Sadly, our focus often shifts to completing tasks, ticking off checklists, filling out pathways, meeting KPIs and achieving objective outcomes. Time spent with a patient, our biggest asset as nurses and midwives, seems to now be a scarce commodity. 

We all agreed that self-care and being kind to ourselves first is vital. Mindfully caring for others starts with replenishing our buckets first. 

Be sure to take the time to listen to the podcast as we explore Kindness in much more detail. 

If you want to discuss strategies to prioritise kindness, give Nurse & Midwife Support a call on 1800 667 877