News: Rob Behrens (PHSO) speaks on BBC News about hospitals empowering nurses and clinicians to listen carefully to concerns.

Rob Behrens,Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman, speaking on BBC Breakfast News today (17th August, 2017), about complaints said:

“Hospitals need to listen and respond to concerns before that become complaints. Unfortunately practices in the NHS are not consistent in this way”.

Screenshot (186)He went on to say:

“When things go wrong it is incredibly important to listen to those concerned”.

Following the PHSO research on elderly people in hospital and raising concerns, he said:

“Hospitals have to find a way to enable nurses, who do a tremendous job for the NHS, and clinicians to listen carefully to patients so they can act when something is a concern rather than a complaint.”

Finally he said: “I am determined to there will be a change but not confident, on the basis of past record, that progress is going to be quick. It is incumbent upon hospitals, regulators and the Ombudsman to work together to make sure that situation changes quickly”.

Original source (1 hr, 12 minutes in)

For support to reach these objectives, this thought-provoking and empowering course: A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy is running on 26th October at Stevenage and 5th December, Milton Keynes. Click on the title for full details of the day.

A selection of comments from the feedback forms:

  • Amazing, Loved it, A fascinating insight. Would highly recommend
  • Very informative and thought-provoking. Very relevant as well
  • I found it a really powerful session, which made me reflect on how processes and systems can block empathy and also how we sometimes think we are listening to someone but we really are not
  • Very powerful message – will always remember
  • I hung onto every word as it was relevant, important and well presented. The points touched upon will help me as I support individuals and families to obtain answers to questions regarding care and treatment of their loved ones.
  • Very different with real impact
  • Thoughtful personal experiences delivered sensitively
  • Very powerful, emotive day. Very well presented and delivered professionally
  • Content was meaningful as it was real
  • Truly one of the best training days I have ever attended that has had a deep impact on me and how I view things
  • The most insightful, engaging and inspirational communications course I have ever attended
  • Very thought-provoking with strong links to my own work. The use of such moving and unique experience was enhanced by uplifting and humorous content



Are there certain emotions that create happiness?

I have just read an interesting article about a study on happiness by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, stating that happiness is not so much about feeling nice feelings and avoiding painful ones. More so, it is about being able to feel or express feelings you desire (or need to).

This resonated with me, as I have had some very painful experiences in my life, as many people do. In fact none of us escape them. However I am a very happy person (most of the time!). For anyone who knows me, they will know that the most painful experience was the loss of a child in hospital 14 years ago when she was 15. However I have had a time in my life, only a short time – 1 year out of the 48 years I have now acquired, when I was in what transpired to be an unhealthy relationship. Unhealthy for me anyway.

I am and always have been, a very gregarious, fun, empathic person, with a very grown up life, but a free spirit and not wanting to fit in any box. To find myself negotiating my way through a relationship with a person who turned out to be a very conservative, possessive and controlling, was a shock to my system, even for someone, who had studied counselling and psychology as I had. So much of a shock, that it took me longer than I would have wished for to disengage from this particular relationship. Instead, what happened, as I tried to manage it, was that I suffered from huge anxiety, like I had never felt before. Heartburn, feeling sick, nervousness, loss of confidence, bad dreams, insomnia, and it transpired, the beginnings of a stomach ulcer. I became very unhappy.

The ironic thing was, what I was going through, in my head, was really nothing in comparison to the hell of seeing a beloved child lose their life and going through years of grief whilst trying to come to terms with it. This experience was truly a very painful experience and I felt many terrible and tormenting feelings. Yet I never got physically ill as I did in this relationship…..Why?

I have felt from my knowledge and training in counselling and psychology that as terrible as the grief was, I was feeling what I should. I was not suppressing myself. I was fighting for her in terms of challenging the hospital in a maternal way, as I should have done. I was crying, as I should have been. I was allowing the feelings of torment to be felt and aired and whilst I recoiled from many feelings, I allowed them to run their course. I was in fact true to me. True to how I chose to love this girl and the kind of person and indeed mum that I needed to be.

Conversely, with the short-term but destructive controlling relationship, I suppressed certain emotions. I allowed myself to be manipulated and in truth, was not true to the person that I am and want to be. Not true to how I view love and the world around me. I therefore have concluded for many years that the physical anxiety, was a symptom of me being in an unnatural state. Yes losing a child was undoubtedly 100% worse, but my feelings were natural, what you would expect and I let them happen. I felt what I needed to feel. What I should be feeling for me. Opposed to suppressing my feelings.

So this initial study interested me. It states that:

While you might think that feeling happy is a balance between feeling pleasure and avoiding pain, a bizarre new study suggests that this may not be the case.

According to the study, people may be happier when they feel the emotions they desire – even if those emotions are unpleasant.

Researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem investigated the emotions that make us happy.

Dr Maya Tamir, lead author of the study, said: ‘Happiness is more than simply feeling pleasure and avoiding pain.

‘Happiness is about having experiences that are meaningful and valuable, including emotions that you think are the right ones to have.

‘All emotions can be positive in some contexts and negative in others, regardless of whether they are pleasant or unpleasant.’

The study involved 2,324 university students from eight countries – the US, Brazil, China, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Poland and Singapore.

So maybe, just maybe, the fact that I can feel happy, despite losing a child, and yet I can feel so anxious being with someone who I can’t express my true emotions with, is because I am feeling and expressing what I need…or not. Don’t get me wrong, the journey of happiness in grief, was a long and difficult one. But the biggest lesson I have  learnt from that experience and the unhealthy relationship one, was …. be true to me. If I don’t, I know it can have a devastating effect on my happiness as well as my physical well-being. Happiness is expressing the emotion that is important to you, rather than just the emotion itself.

Read more on the study:


News: Doctor–Patient Relationship: Empathy a key component

An article published by News Medical Life Sciences, state that:

A doctor–patient relationship (DPR) is considered to be the core element in the ethical principles of medicine. DPR is usually developed when a physician tends to a patient’s medical needs via check-up, diagnosis, and treatment in an agreeable manner. Due to the relationship, the doctor owes a responsibility to the patient to proceed toward the ailment or conclude the relationship successfully. In particular, it is essential that primary care physicians develop a satisfactory DPR in order to deliver prime health care to patients.

Fundamentals for Dynamic DPR (Doctor-Patient Relationship)

Several medical reviews have covered ways to form a relationship between a physician and a patient. Some essential features are important for maintaining a healthy DPR are covered in more detail below:

  1. Communication: Good communication skills are essential to establish DPR. Studies have revealed that effective communication between physician and patient has resulted in multiple impacts on various aspects of health consequences such as:
  • improved medical, functional, and emotional condition of patients;
  • better patient compliance with medical treatment;
  • enhanced fulfillment of patient toward healthcare services;
  • lesser risks of medical misconduct.
  1. Doctor empathy: Empathy is vital to ensure the quality of DPR. This enables the physician to understand the symptomatic experiences and needs of individual patients. Studies have suggested that physician empathy improves the therapeutic effect and the patient’s quality of life.
  2. Trust: Trust in doctors allows patients to effectively discuss their health issues. Development of trust enables the patient to comply with the doctor’s guidance, which consequently results in improvement of health.
  3. Informed consent: This is based on the moral and legal arguments of the patient’s autonomy (independence in decision making). In relation to trust, the physician needs to be honest with the patient and his family to provide a genuine assessment of favorable and unfavorable outcome probabilities, along with the suggested therapy.
  4. Professional boundaries: This deals with any behaviour on the part of the doctor that transgresses the limits of the professional relationship, or boundary violations.

With over 450 complaints coming into the NHS every day and communication, and behaviours/attitudes of staff both being in the top 4, building an empathic connection between staff often working under stress and patients or loved ones under stress, emotionally or physically, is crucial. Learn how to recognise crucial emotional data and enhance your ability connect with others on a human level, and optimise reasoned empathy with my thought provoking day workshop: A Journey Through Complaints Using Empathy

See available dates and venues here

For more on optimising and developing natural empathy and understanding unconscious motivations to behaviour:

Original news source: