Compassion in facilitating the development of person-centred health care practice

Famke Van Lieshout, Angie Titchen, Brendan McCormack, Tanya McCance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BackgroundPerson-centred practice, which includes compassion, needs to be well facilitated in order to flourish in healthcare settings. Facilitation is known to be complex and requires expert knowing and skills. The importance of adequate facilitator support is recognised. The literature however is unclear about the nature of this support and how it can be offered to facilitators while engaging with others in real world practice contexts.Case descriptionThis paper presents a lived experience of a doctoral student working as a facilitator with clinical nurses and their leaders, to develop person-centred health care practice, through action research. Compassion with others and self is apparent throughout the experience. It illustrates a facilitator’s felt need to respond to this emotion that is triggered in the engagement with others, but which often is hindered by the context and perceptions of the situation. This causes imbalance within the facilitator, which in turn challenges the achievement of synchronous working with practitioners and the development of person-centred practice.DiscussionA strong interplay between contextual and facilitator characteristics in the relationship with others impacts on the development of person-centredness in practice. Therefore compassion, as one of the attributes of person-centred practice, is fragile and fluid when lived in facilitative practice. A compassionate system of support is suggested to enable an understanding of context and self, in order to become and remain a person-centred, compassionate, facilitator in dynamic health care contexts.ConclusionA compassionate system of support has the potential to help professionals to navigate the context, without losing oneself, in the process of enabling person-centred, compassionate practice to thrive. Such support suggest an ‘ethic of care’ for the facilitator in discovering and engaging with the emotional context of facilitating person-centred practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Compassionate Health Care
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 6 Jun 2015


  • Facilitation Person-centred practice Compassion Support and Reflexivity


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