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  • Amy Maddison

An organisation that fosters kindness.

Monash Health is one of the major partners supporting the Gathering of Kindness this week. As the largest health service in Victoria, Monash has a vital role to play in incorporating kindness into every level of health care and providing state-wide leadership in this endeavour.

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Professor Erwin Loh, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of Innovation, Patient Safety and Experience at Monash Health.

He tells us how he envisions kindness as integral to provision of outstanding health care and how he would like to see kindness built into the fabric of life at Monash Health. Thankyou Erwin.

Professor Erwin Loh


Professor Erwin Loh is Chief Medical Officer and Executive Director of Innovation, Patient Safety and Experience at Monash Health, Victoria’s largest health service. Besides being a current Board Member of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research, he is also on the Board of the Monash Health Research Precinct and the Australasian College of Legal Medicine (where he is also Vice President). He is adjunct Clinical Professor at Monash University where he teaches clinical leadership and management. He is the Chair of the Victorian State Committee of the Royal Australasian College of Administrators.

Monash Health is one of the major partners of the Gathering of Kindness week. What was it about this endeavour that appealed to you and why did you think it important to support their work?                 Kindness is key to the provision of healthcare, as it is fundamental to the concept of care and the underlying value of compassion. To be kind is to have empathy for our fellow human beings, share in their suffering and strive to alleviate the suffering to expert, quality care. How do you understand the concept of kindness in health care?                 Kindness towards our patients, their families and our fellow staff, is the core of all that we do in health care. Evidence shows that kindness improves patient outcome, and also creates a culture of positivity that supports our staff and brings joy back to the workplace. What does it mean to you personally and as the leader of a large organisation?                 Kindness is one of my personal core values, and as a leader of a large organisation, I endeavour to live it so that I can role model how it is applied in my words and actions. How do you incorporate something as intangible and subjective as kindness into a vast, busy public hospital system such as Monash Health?                 Kindness may initially appear to be intangible and subjective, but in actual fact, everyone knows what it is when it is seen, heard or felt. Kindness is ensuring that we put others first, so creating systems and processes that put patients at the centre, and our staff at the forefront, ensures that we have an organisation that fosters kindness. Are there practical measures we can take to increase compassion and kindness in professional relationships with each other and with patients?                 Overting the need to be kind and acknowledging and rewarding kind behaviour is the first step. We should also talk about compassion and kindness as values and expectations with each other and with patients, encourage more time to be spent with patients, and create a culture where more care is taken when interacting with people around us. What do you think are the constraints or barriers and what might be the solutions?                 Public healthcare is becoming busier as the population ages and there is more chronic disease, in the context of finite public resources, which sets up an environment that works hard to become efficient at the expense of having a system that takes more time to care for people. Solutions include allowing people time to explore and express their own feelings (for example, through Schwartz rounds), supporting a positive culture, strong leaders that lead by example and training around how to act with kindness with patients while maintaining health clinician-patient boundaries. If the Gathering of Kindness events could catalyse change in some way - what would you wish to be different?                 The gathering of kindness should be a decentralised, groundswell movement of healthcare workers in partnership with patients to bring kindness back to healthcare, that changes the system from the inside out, and bottom up, that changes the world one person and one kind act at a time.

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