Compassionate Care: As Defined By Individuals Who Have Used Mental Health Services And Are From An Ethnic Minority Background

Prof Doc Thesis

Kalam-Polli, S. 2021. Compassionate Care: As Defined By Individuals Who Have Used Mental Health Services And Are From An Ethnic Minority Background. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsKalam-Polli, S.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Background: Providing compassionate care is a key constitutional value of the NHS and there has been an increased focus to ensure this is delivered. However, there lacks a consistent and widely accepted definition of what this consists of. Current conceptualisations of compassion do not privilege the voice of service users, despite them being key stakeholders within the NHS, and the majority of studies have focused on physical healthcare settings. Additionally, there is lack of ethnically diverse perspectives across the literature. However, ethnically minoritised individuals experience more negative outcomes within the mental health system.

Aim: To investigate definitions and experiences of compassionate care, based on the perspective of individuals who identify with a minority ethnicity within the UK and have used secondary care mental health services.

Methodology: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven participants. Responses were analysed using a critical realist framework and reflexive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006a).

Results: The analysis generated three main themes and 12 associated sub-themes. 1) Growing the “seeds” of compassion reflected ideas about compassion being an internal factor that was also dynamic and could grow with nurturing. 2) Seeing the person described compassionate care, which involved services recognising and respecting the individuality of service users and providing care according to their needs. 3) “Power imbalances” referenced the way services use judgements, control and language to hold onto power, leading to the delivery of uncompassionate care.

Conclusion: The study highlights the importance of relational care and cautions services to be more mindful of the inherent power differentials between them and service users. Recommendations to enhance compassionate care include services prioritising a person-centred approach and engaging with issues around stigma, intersectionality, cultural humility and religious beliefs.

KeywordsCompassion; compassionate care; service users; mental health services; ethnic minority
PublisherUniversity of East London
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Publication dates
Online20 Dec 2021
Publication process dates
Submitted17 Sep 2021
Deposited20 Dec 2021
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