Clinical research suggests self-compassion amongst healthcare assistants can lead to better patient outcomes

New clinical research from Christchurch Group – the UK’s leading provider of award-winning neurorehabilitation services and winner of HealthInvestor’s Complex Care Award 2018 – has found that lower levels of self-criticism and higher levels of self-kindness in Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) can result in better outcomes for patients.

The pioneering research is the first of its kind to directly examine the two way relationship between self-compassion and care quality in neurorehabilitation, where workers support people with Acquired Brain Injury or conditions like Multiple Sclerosis and Huntingdon’s Disease. With a recent report finding that 51% of care workers considered leaving their role in the past three years due to work-related stress, it’s crucial that management teams in neurorehabilitation centres prioritise the wellbeing of frontline staff.

Led by Christchurch Group’s Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist, Dr Julianne Kinch, the study ‘Self-Compassion, Compassionate Care and Compassion Fatigue in Brain Injury Residential Healthcare Assistants’ saw 75 HCAs from residential rehabilitation centres participate. The study aimed to gauge levels of self-compassion, compassion satisfaction, burnout and compassion fatigue within HCAs. Compassion fatigue is often defined as a culmination of secondary traumatic stress and burnout, which can result in a state of physical and mental exhaustion and a depleted ability to empathise from repeated exposure to suffering.

Commenting on the study, Dr Kinch said,

“Our research found that workers in post-acute rehabilitation reported higher levels of burnout and secondary traumatic stress than staff in slow-stream rehabilitation. However, across all rehabilitation settings, high levels of self-kindness in HCAs ensured they were well-equipped to deliver proficient person-centred care – suggesting that the quality of care delivered is inextricably connected to the mindset of the care worker providing it. When the effective delivery of care becomes compromised by compassion fatigue or burnout, there are repercussions for both staff member and patient; with lower levels of patient satisfaction as well as increased absenteeism and higher turnover.”

Chief Operations Officer at Christchurch Group, Ruth Smith, said,

“We recognise the difficulties faced by health and social care workers in 2019, and it’s concerning to hear that one in three are seeking to leave the sector within the next five years. It’s why we’re proud to be supporting research which prioritises their unique needs in increasingly challenging roles. Christchurch Group will continue to invest in staff training and development to provide the latest evidence-based therapeutic treatments to achieve the best possible outcomes for both service users and teams. It’s this investment in service users and staff which means 86% of our clients return to their homes, families and communities following a period of rehabilitation; and staff at our Abington View facility have said that working at the group ‘feels like being part of a family’.”