What does compassion look like?

 "You mean this really uncomfortable chair rolls out to a really uncomfortable bed?" This was what my son shared with me during his 'family centered care' birth experience. 

When my newest granddaughter was admitted to the PICU my daughter and son-in-law were introduced to interesting 'family' accommodations.  My daughter was able to stay in the room with her baby girl (a room that had no bathroom facilities) while her husband spent the night in a dorm-style bathroom-less room located outside the unit.

Now, let me just say, my son along with my daughter and her husband would sleep on the cold hard floor to be with their hospitalized baby, as I imagine any parent would.  My question is, why do we make it so unwelcoming for families?  Where is our compassion?


The wordle in the image above was compiled by the attendees of our Quantum Caring for NICU Clinicians workshop that took place this past Saturday in Las Vegas.  The question the participants were asked was: 'What does compassion look like?'

I love every word in this wordle. They really captured the essence of compassion which is defined as:  a sense of concern that arises when we are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.

Kindness is compassion in action, however, too often we miss opportunities to be compassionate because we underestimate the power of kindness. We may think: I'm too busy for kindness; They won't even notice; OR the thought of kindness doesn't even cross our mind.


Sadly, mainstream healthcare doesn't seem to truly value the 'soft stuff' i.e. kindness and compassion (despite what their marketing copy might suggest). If they did, I believe metrics for kindness would be on every CEO's dashboard and they themselves would role model compassion and kindness not only for patients and families but for their staff as well.


When we don't feel valued by the organizations we work for it's pretty hard to muster up compassion and kindness for others. You cannot give what you do not have.  In the words of Brené Brown: " ...We can't practice compassion with other people if we can't treat ourselves kindly."

Organizational despair is a symptom of a larger issue in our culture and society at large.  But instead of throwing our hands up and abdicating our responsibility to our patients and ourselves we can take matters into our own hands.  

Authentic compassion must be cultivated from within, beginning with a consistent practice in self-care and self-compassion.


I know this can be challenging. Especially when we view self-care or self-compassion as another thing to put on our 'to-do list'.  But let me tell you, if you don't take care of yourself, who else will?

Restore your spirit. If not for your patients, for Pete's sake, do it for yourself.  Did you know that self-compassion can actually slow down the aging process?  (Not to mention a bunch of other health benefits, both physiological and psychological).

So, back to the uncomfortable chair-bed. My point isn't to get new furniture or put a bathroom in all your patient's rooms (although I don't think it's a bad idea).  My point is to show a little kindness to someone in need. Acknowledge that it might not be a very comfy sleep, but here are a few extra pillows to soften your lie. 

Let the family know how glad you are that they are there with their baby and you will make every effort to make them comfortable.  Be kind. Be authentic. Be welcoming.

Choose the highest version of yourself to show up in these caring encounters.  That loving, compassionate, and kind you that came to this work to make a difference in the lives of others.  To ease their suffering, lessen their burden, and take the edge off their sorrow.

But remember, you can't do any of this on an empty tank.  Check out this self-compassion scale by Dr. Kristen Neff, discover your score and build a consistent practice of self-compassion.  You are so worth the investment  ️.

“It's a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”  - Germany Kent

“It's a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.” - Germany Kent

Take care and care well,


P.S.  We are accepting applications for our Fall 2019 Quantum Leap Program!

Quantum Leap is a 12-month coaching and development program that provides the learner with a strong foundation in research, evidence-based best practices and improvement methodologies for trauma-informed care in the NICU while cultivating essentials skills to become courageous and authentic leaders for change. 

We are excited to share that we have received limited educational grant funds from Dr. Brown Medical for a select number of qualified applicants to the Quantum Leap Program

If this is you, schedule your informational application interview before September 6th to be considered for this unique opportunity! 

Using breakthrough, evidence-based strategies Caring Essentials helps you achieve clarity, build congruence, and challenges you, your colleagues, and your organization to become a center of excellence in trauma-informed care for infants, families and professionals.

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P.P.S.: Want to just chat and explore how Caring Essentials can serve you? Schedule a Get Acquainted Call and start the conversation that will change the way you think about developmental care!

The babies and families are waiting!

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P.P.P.S. Here is your quote for the week!

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