Cultivating Compassion in Long Term Care

Cultivating Compassion in Long Term Care

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

I came across the following article the other day and it really resonated with my experiences working in long term care.

“What kind of person ignores the suffering of another?  What causes one witness to a tragedy to rush to help while another will just keep going?  Does heroism only apply to extreme crisis or are there opportunities everyday, in small, sometimes almost what seem to be insignificant ways to improve the life of another? I am exposed to both heroes and the apathetic on a daily basis. Much like those who choose to have children and plan to nurture well, there are long term caregivers who look forward to coming to the aid of another and helping them to thrive.” From  “Calling All Heroes” – Addressing apathy in long term care

I discovered, the key to helping caregivers understand this responsibility, of being a champion,  is to cultivate compassion. Compassion is described by Wikipedia as:

Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. Compassion is the emotion that we feel in response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. Compassion is often regarded as having an emotional aspect to it, though when based on cerebral notions such as fairness, justice and interdependence, it may be considered rational in nature and its application understood as a activity based on sound judgment. There is also an aspect of compassion which regards a quantitative dimension, such that individual’s compassion is often given a property of “depth,” “vigour,” or “passion.” The etymology of “compassion” is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” More involved than simple empathy, compassion commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism. In ethical terms, the various expressions down the ages of the so-called Golden Rule often embodies by implication the principle of compassion:

Do to others what you would have them do to you.[1]

How do you build compassion? To cultivate compassion the Dalai Lama advises to meditate on it in the morning, think about it when you interact with others, and reflect on it at night. Make it a part of your day.  Here are some offerings for developing a compassion practice:

Metta Bhavana or Loving Kindness Meditation

A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, With 7 Practices – by Leo Babauta

If we can improve the level of compassion and mindful, loving interaction at home we will see a great change in the culture of care. The change begins within.

Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu – May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words and actions of my life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.