Purpose – “Let me back into the world” was the heart rending response by an older relative to a question about his wellbeing following a difficult period of illness and hospitalisation. As his main carer, the author of the paper was struck, when visiting the hospital, by a small poster, on a notice board near to the entrance to the hospital ward, outlining the staff’s commitment to Compassion in Practice. Compassion in Practice was enshrined in the Compassion in Practice vision and strategy (Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board, 2012) for building a culture of compassionate care across health and social care. A key element of the strategy was to make the values of care, compassion, courage, communication, competence and commitment, real and visible to patients and the public. The purpose of this paper is to seek to compare the values being stated with the care experience.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper records a personal perspective from a patient and their family carers of compassionate care in practice. This experience is one case study and does not seek to represent the experience of other patients and their families.
Findings – This highlights the importance of communication and demonstrates that care and compassion are human emotions and values that have to be lived in practice and are part of the interaction between patient, clinician and family. Simply believing in those core nursing values does not make them real for the patient in practice.
Originality/value – Both patient and the family carers had extensive experience of working in health and social care including the NHS. This account demonstrates the challenges of turning strategy into actions that can ultimately improve the patient experience of care.