Kindness is making people feel welcome, talking with empathy, touching, and perhaps most importantly, being on the same wavelength as sufferers. It is cultural competence that is too often reported as lacking in modern care facilities. Dermatologists in particular have many stories and parables of kindness from which to draw, including the Good Samaritan, Father Damian and leprosy on Molakai and Dr Treves and the Elephant Man. Kindness is mediated by word and by touch. Kindness is ‘the oil that allows the machinery of interpersonal relationships to function smoothly.’ (Jemec G (2011)“The Role of Kindness” Compassion, sympathy, empathy, altruism are key components of good medicine.
Warning Most of us are incredibly fortunate to not live in a society dominated by a caste system. What does it feel like to be untouchable? Equal opportunities and respect for all communities has remained unfulfilled since both Union and State have failed to eliminate the caste system.
Action One response to Kindness is Happiness. There is a relationship between improved self esteem and to self satisfaction. It includes positive family or guardian participation. The public health component is being culturally competent, and being on the same wave length as your patient. Do not have an apartheid which is both unkind and creates barriers. Honour the aged and bring to the fore their much greater experience. Health clinics can be threatening and alienating. Home visits may be the only way to get an insight into a disabled person’s relationships. In the same way we must immerse ourselves in another culture to truly grasp its intricate minutiae underlying a well functioning health service. Likewise, our practices should be inviting and welcoming, clean and attractive, in the best possible interests of our patients.