The keynote speech was delivered by Dr Robin Youngson and made the case for a more compassionate health and mental health system. On top of a wealth of academic and medical research Robin’s conclusion, that the health system must be rehumanised comes from his experience both as an Anaesthetist in and as a parent of a child who has lived with mental illness.
Dr Youngson’s contention is that current modes of medical practice fail to address the psychological and emotional needs of patients and their support networks which can contribute to trauma experienced in the health system and ongoing mental illness. The solution he says is to deliver compassionate care.
Compassionate care is a holistic framework of managing patient’s needs taking into consideration needs relating to information, fear, and powerlessness. Checking in with your patients to see how they're feeling, making sure they're across the details of whats happening to them and assisting with managing expectations - even helping facilitate grief can aid in accelerating the recovery process and even decrease admissions relating to mental illness. Including any support network in the process where the patient has expressed an interest in doing also delivers a marked improvement in outcomes for that patient’s recovery and wellbeing.
Along with addressing a persons psychological and emotional needs, Dr Youngson’s case for compassionate treatment advocated for an increased focus on physical rehabilitation as a part managing mental illness. The increased understanding of the relationship between physical activity and mental illness reveals that a sedentary lifestyle often contributes to ongoing mental illness and that regular physical activity is a key part of recovery and maintaining good mental health.
In closing Dr Youngson asserted that medical practitioners can no longer continue look at their patients with 'professional detachment' if they still wanted to deliver the best possible care. Finishing on a positive note he spoke about Louisville Kentuckey, the Compassionate City that has committed itself to the principle of compassion from top to bottom, from the City Hall to the University Hospital where a new generation of doctors and nurses are taking the lead to shape a compassionate health system. After 13 years of seminars, speeches and workshops, the message is being heard.
Tandem was thrilled to have Dr Youngson as the keynote speaker at the conference and run a workshop for participants. He also spoke at the Tandem Awards for Exceptional Service to Families and Carers Dinner.
Dr Robin Youngson is an anaesthetist from New Zealand and internationally renowned for his work on compassion in healthcare. He is the co-founder of Hearts in Healthcare, a global movement for human-centered healthcare, and has helped lead change in many countries including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, and Norway.
Robin's presentation has graciously been made available to the public at no cost.
His work challenges the assumptions and beliefs of a medical system focused on biomedicine and objective science. When we are sick, injured and vulnerable, or find ourselves in life crisis, compassionate caring makes the world of difference: it helps us on our path of healing. Robin importantly shares the latest research, showing that compassionate caring alters gene expression, changes structure and function, and powerfully improves clinical outcomes. The effect of this is equal to many of the medicines we prescribe.
Robin is an Honorary Senior Lecturer at Auckland University, is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Compassionate Healthcare, and is a member of the Global Compassion Council of the international Charter for Compassion. He is the author of the acclaimed book Time to Care – How to love your patients and your job.