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Why every workplace needs a ‘Department Of Kindness’

Hospital’s blue plaques project recognises the daily acts of kindness in patient care

Hospital’s blue plaques project recognises the daily acts of kindness in patient care


Blue plaques around the hospital mark the place of an ‘incident of kindness’.

Acts of kindness by nurses and other people have been highlighted in a blue plaque-style scheme as part of a hospital art project.

The Department (Dept) of Kindness initiative at North Bristol NHS Trust invited staff, patients and visitors to share stories of kindness from Southmead Hospital.

More than 700 people visited the Dept of Kindness, which opened in January in a makeshift office under a stairwell at the hospital, to share their experiences. They could also take part in creative ‘kindness workshops’, which promote self-care and compassion.

‘An outbreak of kindness’

Now 11 of the stories have been turned into blue plaque-style artworks, which have been placed in non-clinical areas where an act of kindness took place.

One of the plaques reads: ‘During this week, my husband and I experienced repeated acts of kindness from all the nurses here. I think it could be the beginning of an outbreak of kindness.’

Another says: ‘My dad was distressed and refusing all treatment – the A&E nurse (Sarah or Sue?) stuck with him all evening. She held his hand and comforted him. It meant so much to me. He still talks about her now.’

North Bristol NHS Trust deputy director of nursing Carole Tookey said: ‘I passed the Dept of Kindness many times. It was lovely to stop and read some of the incidents of kindness from staff, patients and visitors, and to see the positive effect that it had on morale around the hospital.

‘It’s really important we continue to recognise the amazing acts of kindness that take place every day.’

Power in small acts

The project was devised by artist Ali Brown, who works for Fresh Arts, an arts programme managed by North Bristol NHS Trust to enhance the patient experience and improve morale.

Ms Brown said nurses were often surprised to learn of the powerful effects of what they saw as small actions. 

‘The realisation that someone has taken time – when they are probably not feeling very well – to sit down in this space and write down this thing that had a huge impact on them, which to you is just something you do so naturally, day in and day out, can be a surprise.

‘Everywhere needs to have a Dept of Kindness – now more than ever.’

Ms Brown urged anyone interested in hosting the Dept of Kindness to get in touch.


Further information

Learn more about the Dept of Kindness

Read about Fresh Arts


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