The new Aged Care Quality Standards are up and running, and it is interesting to note that standard 7 – Human Resources, includes in 3 (b) ‘workforce interactions with consumers are kind, caring and respectful of each consumer’s identity, culture and diversity’.
This begs the question for health providers, what is kindness, how is it relevant and how can we demonstrate it in the workplace?
Psychologist have been investigating what constitutes kindness for some time, and have developed validated tools to measure it, but in general, kindness has been shown to be many things, but can be defined as the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate. When thinking of kindness think of affection, gentleness, warmth, concern and care.
Kindness can be many things, but simple ways of showing it in the workplace are smiling, greeting others, offering help and getting to know one another. Gestures of kindness are universally understood, and cross cultural, religious and socio-economic boundaries. Acting kindly reduces anxiety, increases a sense of wellbeing and can improve overall health and satisfaction, in both care workers and residents alike. A culture of kindness in the workplace not only benefits the individuals, but fosters a happier, proactive and productive organisation.
There are many fundamental benefits of cultivating a culture of kindness in the workplace. Good people don’t stay in bad environments; a culture of kindness will help with the retention of both consumers and staff, and promote a calm, consistent approach when dealing with difficult situations.
Kindness is available to everyone, and confers a wide range of benefits, it deserves to be a central tenet of how a facility is managed, irrespective of its inclusion in the current standards. After all, we are a caring profession, how do we show we care if we are not kind?