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At a time when virtually all hospital patients and care-residents were and continue to be isolated from loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic due to visitor restrictions, the expression of compassionate care becomes even more important for Canada’s future and the wellbeing of its population.

How patients experience compassion in the healthcare system is something that can now be more accurately measured with the use of the Sinclair Compassion Questionnaire (SCQ), a first-of-its-kind tool developed jointly by Dr. Thomas Hack, of St. Boniface Hospital Research and UM College of Nursing, and his co-principal investigator Dr. Shane Sinclair from the University of Calgary.

“I am so pleased this tool is available to empower healthcare facilities and their teams to be better at alleviating the suffering of our fellow humans,” said Hack.

The product of a comprehensive country-wide study examining patient experiences in the healthcare system, SCQ was based on data gathered from more than 600 individuals in acute care, long-term care and hospice settings, and will be of particular benefit to teams working in these facilities.

“We talk about compassion a lot as health care professionals, but it’s really how the patient perceives and receives compassion that matters the most. That’s why we undertook the study and developed the questionnaire – to create a robust tool that truly captures with consistency, validity, accuracy and sensitivity, that can help inform better programming in our facilities and how our staff are trained to deliver compassionate care,” Hack elaborated.

Chief Nursing Officer Kathleen Klassen of Deer Lodge Centre, helped support patient input from her facility used to inform Hack and Sinclair’s research, which ultimately led to the development of the questionnaire.

“The Compassionate Care Questionnaire provides a reliable and valid measure of compassionate care as experienced by patients and residents. By being able to measure compassionate care, we can target quality improvement actions at the individual, unit, facility level to improve the quality of life and service experience for those living at Deer Lodge Centre,” she shared.

Klassen explained how the questionnaire would be incorporated as part of annual client experience and quality of life surveys facilities such as Deer Lodge Centre regularly undertake. “The results will then be analyzed at the unit, program and facility level to help identify themes and opportunities to improve our quality of life and quality of care delivery models,” she added.

Hack said he and Sinclair hope the SCQ can ultimately become part of inpatient medical records and then aggregated to produce institutional compassion scores.

“This would allow health care teams to improve compassion and patients and families to determine things such as which long-term care home to place their loved ones in, based on the compassion scores of those facilities,” Sinclair emphasized.

British Medical Journal Open
UM News Compassion Measure
U Calgary News Patient-Reported Compassion Measure