The Canadian Nurses' Association Code of Ethics (2008) and the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia (CRNNS) Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses (CRNNS 2011) identify the provision of safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care as one of nursing's primary values and ethical responsibilities. While compassion has historically been viewed as the essence of nursing, there is concern that this has become an abstract ideal, rather than a true reflection of nursing practice. This paper describes a compassionate care initiative undertaken by the CRNNS and the initial outcomes of these educational workshops. This work is informed by an exploration of the multiplicity of factors that have brought this issue to the fore for nursing regulators, educators, administrators, the public as well as front-line staff. The two most significant areas of learning reported by workshop participants included understanding the connection between mindfulness, non-judgmental care and compassion/self-compassion and recognizing possibilities for action related to compassionate care, even in the face of personal and environmental constraints. Implications for nursing regulators and leaders include consideration of their roles and responsibilities in supporting nurses to meet professional practice standards, such as provision of compassionate care.
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