We may be entitled to expect that everyone working in the caring sector would already possess the necessary skills to be able to demonstrate compassion and empathy towards those receiving care. However, we continue to hear about too many examples of poor attitudes towards some very vulnerable people by a small but significant minority of staff. The fact that some care providers perform better than others suggests that standards can be improved. Clearly there are fundamental conditions that have to be in place including quality leadership, adequate resources, open and respectful communication but the real key to delivering quality person-centred, compassionate care is to have the right staff in place.
The best organisations will invest time and energy into their recruitment and selection processes and, while there are no guarantees, this is likely to pay dividends. You can also be sure that the best staff will be attracted to the best organisations and will also be more likely to stay. So, what should we be looking for in care staff? Qualities that are often highlighted such as reliability, flexibility, honesty, empathy and respect, tend to be the types of qualities that enable relationships to be formed and trust to be developed. However, how can we be sure that new recruits possess such qualities and what can we do with existing staff who appear to be lacking?