The key characteristics of employee gentleness can be described as taking a 'soft and slow' approach that combine guidance care behaviours - to direct the care process and achieve care objectives - and relational care behaviours which maintain and develop the relationship with the client.
These are among the key findings of a major piece of research by Alliance MBS into what it means to be gentle when caring in a professional role.
As Professor David Holman, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Alliance MBS, explained: “We want to develop our understanding of what it means to be gentle, and to understand how organisations can support it. To do this we observed practice over a few months and interviewed staff, patients and residents at a hospice day care centre and two care homes in the North West.”
The study found that the most important aspect of being gentle was taking a ‘soft and slow’ approach. This included a wide range of behaviours such as: speaking in a soft and quiet manner; softly touching hands or the lower arm; keeping an open posture (i.e. not crossing arms); sitting or crouching down to talk with clients; generally not rushing care delivery or decisions.
Professor Holman added that when guiding people, three things seemed most important. Firstly, friendly enquiry helps build a detailed understanding of who clients are and their needs. Secondly, offering support was essential and focused on giving people advice, assistance and encouragement. And thirdly, managing emotions was crucial. “Employees sought to manage clients’ emotions and feelings by reducing negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, fear and guilt, and by promoting positive emotions like calmness, contentment, happiness and comfort.”
The study found that being gentle helped with three particular aspects of care.
Firstly it helped ensure that clients and caregivers could discuss and disclose complicated, and at times emotional, topics. Secondly, being gentle helped with persuading clients to do a particular task such as eating, getting out of bed, or taking medicine. And thirdly, a gentle approach could give comfort when clients were upset or in pain.
Low workloads, few interruptions and high staffing levels are all factors that make it easier for care workers to spend extended and uninterrupted time ‘being gentle’ with clients. Professor Holman said issues around workload and staff were especially evident at the hospice where staff-client ratios were low (1:1 or 2:1) and where staff had few interruptions and the pace of work was deliberately slow.
However, in care homes workload was high and interruptions far more frequent. “In this context, job discretion and support from colleagues and managers became all the more important for fostering gentleness, as they enable employees to ‘carve out’ the time to be gentle. Likewise, engaging in what we call knowledge-based practices, such as debriefing and handover meetings, was especially important when workload was high as this helped employees to develop close working relationships, agree on supportive solutions to client needs, and to focus on where gentleness might be most important.”
The report authors believe there are several ways that health and social care organisations can now help staff take a gentle approach to the care that they provide:
- Sharing a belief in a person-centred care approach with other employees
- Allowing staff discretion to decide what tasks to do when, and for how long so that client needs can be met
- Having supportive colleagues and managers who will redistribute care/other tasks when caregivers need to spend extra time with clients
- Sharing knowledge of clients at handovers and team meetings
- Low workloads and few interruptions to allow caregivers to spend extended and uninterrupted time with clients
The report authors are now in the process of piloting a training course on employee gentleness that employees can use as part of continuing professional development, and which will be piloted between May and October this year.
Friday, August 11, 2017
The NHS Leadership Academy has appointed Alliance Manchester Business School as one of seven higher education institutions (HEIs) to deliver the NHS Masters in Business Administration (MBA) programme.
Friday, August 4, 2017
Paul Wood, Executive Principal at YK Pao School Secondary Division in Shanghai, recently started his fourth University of Manchester degree at Alliance MBS.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Why is it that employees who witness bullying in the workplace are often reluctant to intervene? And what role could they actually play in helping to improve the wider culture of a business? These are among the key questions that a team of academics from Alliance MBS are investigating as part of a project into the role that third parties play in workplace bullying.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Austerity is not just a consequence of the global financial crisis but is here to stay as states grapple with the wider impacts of globalisation and the difficulty of increasing state spending. These are among the key messages from an ongoing multi-national academic study into the ‘foundational economy’ – namely those parts of the economy which provide the very basic goods and services that are at the foundation of civilised life.
Friday, July 28, 2017
Randa Bessiso, Founding Director of our Middle East Centre, has been named amongst the Forbes Middle East 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen for 2017. Randa was previously recognised by Forbes in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 lists.
Alliance Manchester Business School and Bruntwood celebrate significant step in campus redevelopment
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
MANCHESTER, 19 JULY, 2017 – Luminaries and leadership figures from Alliance Manchester Business School, Bruntwood and partners gathered on site at the hugely improved campus last night to celebrate a significant step forward in its redevelopment.
Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Birmingham award 1000th MSc in Healthcare Leadership on behalf of NHS Leadership Academy
Friday, July 14, 2017
1,000th Masters in Healthcare Leadership is awarded on its flagship Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA) programme.
Monday, July 10, 2017
Alliance Manchester Business School has been awarded £9.7 million by HEFCE
Monday, July 3, 2017
Calls for private arbitration to avoid delays to transport projects