Nurses should never underestimate the power of care and compassion

This morning I met a lovely lady at the hairdressers. She made me proud to be a nurse. She didn’t save a life, she offered care and compassion in a small way but in a way which I am sure will always be remembered…

 As I waited for my appointment in the hairdressers today, I watched a beautiful bride and her bridesmaids having their hair done for their special day. As I watched a team of hairdressers make sure that every strand of hair was perfect for each excited lady, it immediately brightened my day, but not as much as the act of kindness that followed…

As I watched and waited, I noticed the lady sat next to me was reading something which looked like a nursing assignment ready for submission. We had already chatted briefly about how lovely the bridal party looked and so I asked her if she was proof-reading something. She explained that her niece was training to be a nurse and that she had asked her to read through it. She explained that she was proofreading the work for spelling and grammar. As a Lecturer in Nursing, I was immediately interested. The lady went on to explain that she was a nurse herself, working at a local hospital and that she too had trained to be a nurse at The University of Salford. Of course this common ground opened up a great conversation about mutual people and places we knew. The lady talked about how she loved her job and that the unit she worked on was about to trial long 12.5 hour shifts which she wasn’t sure about. We discussed the pros and cons of this of course and she explained that her workplace had allowed her flexibility on her shifts through their family friendly policy. She expressed how lucky she was to work in such a lovely ward area and I have to be honest, when I meet nurses, they usually only tell me how busy they are and how short staffed they are and so this was refreshing to hear. The coincidences continued as she talked about her birthday and the holiday she had booked. She explained that she would soon be flying to Zante in Greece and staying in a hotel that I too had stayed in when visiting my parents who have retired there. The lady had been several times (as have I) and again we talked about mutual people and places we knew. As we chatted I noticed that she made me feel very comfortable and at ease, she was pleasant, polite and humorous too, all important qualities for a nurse I thought. As we both sat down to have our hair cut, the lady’s hairdresser was heavily pregnant and was expressing her concern about a pain in her arm. The lady responded to the hairdresser with such care and compassion, that it was lovely to watch a skilled nurse in action. She asked questions, she listened and she reassured. It was clear that this lady was a genuinely caring and compassionate nurse who was competent in using her communication and assessment skills. I watched the lady in admiration as she gently offered genuine reassurance which was clearly well received. What I observed was a nurse whose inherent ability to use all 6 C’s was a shining example of our great nurses. After hearing so many bad news items about nurses, this truly did lift my spirits. As we continued chatting, the lady asked me if I missed working in clinical practice. This is also a question that my students often ask me. My usual response is ‘Yes, of course!’ but the truth is, I also enjoy contributing to the development of our future nurses, and if they can all show care and compassion like the lady in the hairdressers today, I will be very proud of my work.

Today reminded me that we don’t have to look far for exceptional nursing care, there are nurses who are proud to provide exceptional care both on and off duty. I don’t usually enjoy a trip to the hairdressers but today was an experience that made me proud to be a nurse. I wonder if the lady realises the impact she made on me and on the hairdresser who appeared so grateful for the care she was offered. I hope that she can never underestimate the value and power of that small act of care and compassion. I also wonder if her niece realises what a wonderful mentor she has. I think sometimes we underestimate the impact of our actions, no matter how small. I don’t know the lady’s name and I may never meet her again but I am grateful to her for making me feel very proud to be a nurse!

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3 thoughts on “Nurses should never underestimate the power of care and compassion

  1. Pingback: Wednesday Weekly | pattyspaperbacks

  2. What a lovely story and I think it also reflects my realisation that nursing is not what we do, but who we are. Nor is it confined by organisational or geopgraphical boundaries but can be applied and experienced anywhere – even in the haridressers!

  3. Thanks Lynne, I absolutely agree. I may not work in clinical practice but I am still a registered nurse and as you say our nursing skills and experience are still relevant and can be applied in any environment, thank you.

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