Kindness is a clinical intervention

Tim Keogh at Ko Awatea
Tim Keogh at Ko Awatea, CM Health

Values Week is underway and it’s been wonderful to see large numbers of staff, patients and whaanau take time out from busy jobs and lives to share what makes a good or bad day at work or a good or bad experience of care.

Today I’m joined by Tim Keogh, from April Strategy, who is facilitating our value workshops and sessions. Tim has a long history of helping organisations around the world reshape their values and has a passion for helping people to build positivity, skills and resilience to be the best they can be.

Tim talks to us about how the values sessions are going.

We have had such a great response and start to Values Week with 950 staff members and 95 patients and whaanau signed up to attend workshops and sessions.

The fact that 95 patients and whaanau are willing to come in and spend two hours talking about their good and bad experiences is pretty humbling. It takes courage to share moments that may be very personal, meaningful and sometimes difficult to talk about. It also hits home that genuine acts of kindness and respect have such a positive impact on a patient’s experience and recovery.

For example, I heard from a patient who said that when a doctor showed him respect and considered his point of view he felt more able to self-manage his care. As a result, he didn’t need to come into hospital as much. Another patient said it was wonderful to be genuinely listened to, which made her more engaged in her care. Studies have also shown that being welcomed and reassured by a staff member can reduce anxiety and pain and result in a faster recovery.

Staff gather for a values session at the Manukau SuperClinic

So what makes a good day for staff?   Over half of the people we talked to said a good day was as simple as someone noticing them, appreciating their work and saying thanks.

For many people, a bad day was caused by poor behaviour from a colleague i.e. someone being rude, harsh or disrespectful.   There was a sharp intake of breath from people in the room when they realised, that for half of the people here, their worst day at work was caused by a colleague being mean or rude or using a harsh tone. And yet these are behaviours we can change by ourselves by just being more respectful and kinder to one another.

Our behaviour can also affect our patients with an article by BMJ 2010: ‘Rudeness at workciting that rudeness between staff impacts cognitive function and causes clinical incidents.

And sometimes the opposite just takes something as simple as a smile. In a study conducted in the UK, British researchers found that when you receive a genuine smile it can give you an endorphin boost of the equivalent of 2000 bars of chocolate!   That’s a lot of happiness without the calories!

Values are an essential part of providing great care and a great experience at work. The past few days have been about helping people to understand how values underpin who they are as individuals and as an organisation.

Our values also live side by side with CM Health’s strategy – ensuring we consistently pass the granny test and deliver the care we would be happy for a member of our family to receive. None of us is perfect, but we have heard that if we do sometimes fall short we want others to let us know so we are empowered and enabled to put things right.

If you would like to know more about Values Week and how you can contribute contact Adeline Cummings via email:

To check out an infographic on the impact of patient and staff experience on quality in healthcare click here.  A list of references related to the infographic can be found here.

Tim and Geraint



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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