Last week I experienced an immense amount of kindness from others, and more specifically, strangers. I was driving to work in regional Victoria, as I often do, and had an unfortunate accident on the road with a kangaroo. I was stuck in the middle of somewhere – not sure where I was, but knew it was dark, and that I felt quite isolated and scared.
I had a lovely young woman stop and come running down the freeway to see if I was okay; and to see if she could help. I had the wonderful operator from insurance calming me and saying she would chat to me until the tow truck driver came. I also had Alex, my new best friend the tow truck driver, who kept reminding me I was okay and to remember what was important. Then, my taxi driver shared his reflections, from his faith, on the meaning of the accident. These were total strangers all finding space in their night to genuinely connect with me in their own way through nothing more than acts of kindness. I was instantly reminded how kindness costs nothing but is profoundly impactful.
These events got me thinking about this week’s initial findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. I thought about the kindness in which we care for those who need support and assistance, but also for those who do the caretaking. It also made me reflect upon how kindness, at times, can be forgotten. Forgotten when we are too busy, forgotten when we’re under pressure, or forgotten when we feel we have no time. Often this results in the loss of connection and the ability to genuinely engage with other human beings. We need to remember if we want better aged care services and to attract the most compassionate and professional carers, we must look at all the contributing factors from a systemic lens.
Sometimes I think in our aged care services time is so short and pressured that the intimacy of kindness is forgotten. From my perspective, one action we can put in place right now is to offer kindness to caretakers during a challenging time. With so many challenging stories and accounts, we have heard around the quality of care, we should also remember the very positive experiences that many also have had. So when we hear the horrific accounts of some of the experiences let us remember, still to be kind to those carers who do get it right, try to get it right, and want to get it right.
Kindness in aged care, at every touch point, must be one of the core ingredients in building and strengthening those that receive care and those who have the responsibility of caring.
Equally, the importance of taking time in all workplaces to show kindness to each other can result in joy, personal growth and increased connections between people. Just as I experienced, kindness can be contagious. Let us consistently remember this and put this simple practice into place to improve the human experience all around.