Compassionate Care Curriculum

AMS 2016 Phoenix Fellow Jill Sangha talks Compassionate Care

AMS would like to introduce you to our new 2016 Phoenix Fellow, Ms. Jill Sangha. Jill is a Social Worker who has taken on the role of Patient and Family-Centred Care Specialist with the Children’s Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre.

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We asked Jill a few questions to get a better understanding of what brought her to healthcare, why she values compassionate care and the work that AMS Fellows are doing, and why she wanted to be involved. Here is what she had to say:.

Q: Why did you decide to become a healthcare professional?

“From the time I was an early teen, I felt I could make a difference. I dreamed of saving the world.  I was fortunate to have many people in my life, who inspired me, who taught me the value of being respectful of others, being non-judgmental, as well, the importance of trust and social justice.  In many ways, I felt that I was destined to be a Social Worker with the knowledge that changing the world started with helping one person and with the ability to empathize with them.”

Q. What was the catalyst for your interest in compassion in healthcare?

“What I’ve learned is that Social Work will show you some of the darkest and most difficult sides of humanity. In my very early days as a Social Work intern, I remember vividly, seeing a middle-aged man, bed ridden from a recent stroke, sobbing because he had soiled himself after his nurse told him she had other responsibilities that needed to be taken care of first. It sparked a real curiosity to understand what within the healthcare environment contributed to restricting one’s ability to provide compassionate, empathic, humanistic care.”

Q. What value does being an AMS Fellow bring to you professionally?

“I want to become a leader in Patient and Family-Centred Care. To address systemic issues, and partner with patients and families in co-creating a new paradigm,   reflective of why I believe many people enter the healthcare field — to provide compassionate humanistic care. To have my vision supported by the prestigious AMS Fellowship award will help to advance this vision in my organization and beyond, strengthening my leadership abilities; and allowing me to develop provincial and national networks. This fellowship also provides an infrastructure, a support network and a community of like-minded experts to advance work in this field that would not otherwise be possible outside of the AMS.”

Q. What one little thing could we do to make our healthcare system more compassionate?

“Cultivate a climate that treats staff compassionately, seeking opportunities for improvement based on continuous attention to breaking down barriers that prevent staff from providing compassionate care.  Ensuring staff feels valued; and investing in developing and supporting staff is critical.”

Q. Have you ever been given advice by a patient that changed the way you practice Social Work?

“What I have come to learn through the wisdom of families is that during the most unimaginable of experiences, for example, seeing their child take their last breath, there is no words that can eliminate the depth of agony they feel. As a health care provider, it is natural to want to offer comforting words and in some way help ease the suffering of families.  Learning how to be present, without time pressures, just sitting in the presence of  grief is the most compassionate act of caring that we can ever provide.”

Q. What advice do you have for healthcare professionals to avoid/overcome compassion fatigue and burnout?

“The demands of frequent contact with patients and their families who are suffering can be a significant stressor that can limit one’s capacity for delivering compassionate care.  Mindfulness has been recommended as a significant tool for avoiding/overcoming compassion fatigue and burnout.  It is important to take moments to stop, think, reflect, acknowledge our feelings, and treat yourself compassionately.  Be aware of and respond to your own needs and make sure you build breaks in to your schedule to decompress (iIe. Go for a run, read a book, meditate, or spend time with family/friends).”

Read more about Jill’s 2016 AMS Phoenix Fellowship.

About the author

Jill Sangha

Ms. Sangha is the Patient and Family-Centred Care Specialist at London Health Sciences Center. She worked as a Clinical Social Worker before being promoted into senior management.

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