A Culture of Health

A Culture of Health and a Culture of Caring: Why Ethical/Values Based Leadership in Healthcare is so Important Today

I applaud efforts to emphasize health as a collective responsibility, i.e. encouraging citizens to see themselves as active participants in preventing disease and illness and in working in partnership with their healthcare professionals to achieve the best outcome in their health and their treatment.

I believe that values-based (also referred to as ethical leadership) is essential to ensuring that our patients receive needed care and that our care providers are well supported and inspired to carry out their important work. I emphasize the importance of having leaders who can inspire a culture of caring today in our complex and often overwhelmed system of care. I have witnessed the benefits of values based or ethical leadership from my work in healthcare but nothing taught me the importance more than being an advocate and later a substitute decision maker for my late father. Before entering long term care what my father encountered as his health declined was a fragmented system of care that was ill prepared to meet the needs of his chronic illnesses and progressive disabilities. Emergency care was frequently needed with care that was at times excellent and compassionately delivered while at other times delivered with little regard for his comfort or dignity. Having worked in healthcare I was acutely aware of the stress levels of the staff in these urgent care environments and the need for more physicians and nurses to support the demand for care.

Leadership - whether it be in the boardroom or clinical leadership at the bedside can influence the culture of the caring environment as well as the patient experience. When leadership and the culture of the care setting is compassionate both to staff and patients, the patient and family experience is extraordinary. In these settings the leadership often exemplifies all the values that we attribute to excellence in healthcare which include compassion, respect and fairness. To achieve such caring environments requires exemplary leadership from boardroom to bedside as well as the active support from government leadership to ensure there are sufficient resources. I invite people to acknowledge the efforts made by leaders in healthcare on the most senior levels of government right to the patient's bedside who we believe exemplify values of compassion, respect and fairness in their efforts to support our healthcare institutions, care providers, patients and families.

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Idea No. 552