Finding Compassion and Acceptance in the Midst of a PandemicMelissa C Palmer, LCSW, ACHP-SW, APHSW-C, JD Feb 9, 2021
These days, it’s a challenge to dig deep when healthcare workers hear of those who refuse to wear masks, those who feel the pandemic is a hoax, those who purposely destroy a shipment of the already precious coronavirus vaccine. Social media has created an even greater schism between people with different opinions, and inaccurate news is a common occurrence to market fear and separation. We often see that our patients who are homebound and suffering have limited access and interaction to the outside world and a great portion of their time may be spent in front of the television or electronic devices.
Listening with compassion while not engaging the emotions of others seems to be the key to tolerance and understanding. Sometimes we can look at why this really makes us uncomfortable; we can also try to put ourselves in the shoes of the person with a different viewpoint. Often, we have to take a deep breath before speaking with patients who hold strongly opposing views from our own.
We, as palliative care community specialists, are skilled in the art of compassion. As we talk with those who may have differing opinions about the pandemic and ways to manage the risks, we can delve into our well of accepting people where they are at and respect the choices made. Part of our role is to be aware of our own biases and how it impacts our connections and interactions with patients and families. Most importantly, we can bridge the gap by identifying with others about our similarities rather than our differences.
The Orellana-Rios article below is a great reminder of the importance of self-care and compassion in palliative care and in our community.
Orellana-Rios, C. et al (2018) Mindfulness and compassion-oriented practices at work reduce distress and enhance self-care of palliative care teams: a mixed-method evaluation of an “on the job“ program. BMS Palliative Care, 17 (3).