Better support for learning disability workers is key to compassionate care

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A target-driven approach and staff burnout in learning disability services are affecting the quality of care provided to service users. Services should do more to encourage and support staff to deliver high-quality compassionate care.

These are findings of new research conducted by master’s student Hope Brennan at Manchester Metropolitan University. People working in learning difficulty support services are struggling to build compassionate relationships with patients due to time pressures, being short staffed and a lack of resources – even though compassion is one of the NHS’s six core values.

The small-scale study also finds that an absence of self-compassion could be causing burnout and even secondary trauma – emotional l distress from the traumatic experiences of others.

Professionals who participated in the study suggested that their values around compassion often conflicted with the procedures valued by their services. Lack of resources and time and feeling the service was short staffed all contributed to staff feeling stretched when it comes to providing compassion to service users.

Published in the British Journal of Learning Disabilities, the research recommends that professional be given more supportive supervision and that the attitudes of candidates towards providing compassionate care should be considered during the recruitment stage of employment.

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