Study shows importance of gentleness in patient care

A team from the University of Manchester has been working with our hospice staff on a research project investigating employee gentleness in patient care.

By News Team on June 15, 2017

The new study was carried out over a four month period by Professor David Holman, Professor Leo McCann, and Dr Clare Mumford from Alliance Manchester Business School, and Dr Maurice Nagington from the Division of Nursing.

Professor David Holman explained:  “Our research shows that gentleness can be defined as a soft and slow approach to caregiving.  A soft approach involves speaking in a quiet, soft manner and the use of soft touch to communicate empathy, understanding and friendliness.

“In addition, gentleness has a relatively slow pace and rhythm that involves spending time with patients and ensuring that patients are given ‘enough time’.  In particular, in gentleness, a soft and slow approach is infused through the behaviours used to provide care which combine, for example, friendly enquiry about patient needs, providing support, showing compassion and empathy, helping patients to manage and deal with their emotions and feeling, and building positive and rewarding relationships with patients.”

“Gentleness was very evident in the care provided by staff at the hospice.  Furthermore, our research showed that the hospice provided an environment that helped to foster gentleness as staff had strong beliefs in patients centred care, had discretion over how long to spend with patients, were highly supported by each other, and coordinated their work so that they had an in depth understanding of patient need.

“Being involved in this research project was both enjoyable and fruitful.  We gained a deeper understanding of the complexities of care giving and gentleness, and a deep respect for the skills and dedication shown by staff.”

The study, which included extensive observation of daily work at the hospice, actively involved staff and patients in the data collection process, with the majority of observations being carried out during day care sessions.

It’s extremely important to us that the care we give to the thousands of patients and their loved ones that we support at the hospice is compassionate and gentle, and feedback we receive is that the kindness shown by our staff has a real impact on how people feel about their time at St Ann’s. Eamonn O'Neal, Chief Executive

Eamonn O’Neal, Chief Executive of St Ann’s added:  “We were extremely pleased to be able to collaborate with the team from the university in this study, and have read the results with interest.  Person-centred care is something that we’re passionate about at the hospice, and we know it’s incredibly important to treat everyone as an individual with tailored, specialist care.  Gentleness obviously plays an important part in that provision, and we hope that the results of the project will be helpful to other health and social care practitioners too.”

The project was funded by the Lord Alliance of Manchester donation to the Alliance Manchester Business School.

A copy of the report that sets out the findings of the study can be downloaded at

To read more about the project, please visit the Alliance Manchester Business School website at