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Phone call from Rosa.  After rallying to the point of sitting up and making jokes with family who visited the day after I did, Uncle Mal developed breathing difficulties and died quietly and peacefully at mid-morning, with his wife and children surrounding him.

In spite of the pain that preceded it, a good death.





Since kindness doesn’t come in the units easily measurable against Key Performance Indicators, I’m quite sure the hospital staff, who helped to make Mal’s good death possible, won’t collect any glitzy-dinner awards for their work and care.

In some ways, that’s quite right – kindness should be a given, a basic condition of doing the job, not bolted on to win gilt-spackled certificates and PR kudos.  It shouldn’t be something so remarkable that it has to be singled out and spotlighted.  At the same time, creating the conditions for a good death, the conditions that help a family feel comforted in their mourning, is, on each and every occasion, a supreme achievement that deserves recognition and gratitude.  This is going to be a short post today, because besides all the other things I need to do before this evening, I need to write to the ward staff to thank them for the way they looked after all of us, me included, while Mal was their patient.

Kindness can’t be bought, and true care can’t be paid for, in the currencies that organisations use.  Kindness won’t appear on any Trust balance sheet or in a hospital’s end-of-year report.  Yet from the point of view of the person lying in the bed, and the people sitting in the chairs alongside, it’s one of the hospital’s most important assets.  If it goes missing, the consequences are everlasting and unforgivable.

I know the Sloves aren’t listening to this.  They should be.