St Luke’s Hospital Champions Compassionate Care for a Sustainable Healthcare System in its 2nd Compassionate Care Conference

Building a Healthcare Community Centred on Empathy and Well-being

To improve the well-being of healthcare professionals and quality of care, St Luke’s Hospital (SLH) successfully held its 2nd Compassionate Care Conference, where over 250 attendees learned about the practice of compassionate care from an international panel of experts. Prof Kenneth Mak, Director-General of Health, Ministry of Health, graced the event as its Guest of Honour this year.

Findings from a tripartite workgroup in 2023 revealed that almost one in three healthcare workers in Singapore witnessed or experienced abuse at least once a week. This growing trend, coupled with ongoing challenges of manpower crunch and increasing workloads, poses a threat to the well-being of healthcare professionals, potentially exacerbating burnout, “compassion fatigue” and mental health issues.

Themed “Healer, Heal Thyself: Rising to the Challenges of Compassionate Care”, the conference emphasised the importance of extending compassionate care – considering the physical, social, and emotional needs of the “whole person” – to healthcare professionals themselves.

Research shows that safe and compassionate communities foster a sense of value and support, which leads to increased trust, better communication, and ultimately, improved patient outcomes and experiences.

Beyond practical strategies for self-care and building supportive communities within healthcare, the conference embraced creative approaches to enhance well-being. The opening and closing acts by a group of Music Therapists showcased the power of music as a tool for self-care and emotional expression.

Additionally, the inaugural “Serving, Loving and Healing the Body, Mind and Spirit through the Arts” competition displayed impactful artworks from the public, offering a creative lens on compassionate care and showcasing the transformative power in the healing process.

Dr Katie Eastman, Adjunct Professor at Antioch University N.E. Graduate School, who maintains a 35-year practice as a psychotherapist and medical social worker specialising in individual, collective, and organisational changes, urged healthcare professionals to prioritise compassionate care by addressing their own communication styles, personal and professional triggers, and communication challenges. Components of compassionate communication include empathy, active listening, unconditional regard for another’s well-being and respect for another’s perspective, void of shame, blame, judgement or criticism. Effective communication fosters understanding between healthcare teams and patients, leading to better identification of care needs and ultimately, improved patient outcomes.

“Having compassion involves a deep understanding of another’s pain and a willingness to alleviate it,” said A/Prof Tan Boon Yeow, Chief Executive Officer, St Luke’s Hospital. “Our healthcare workers go above and beyond to meet the needs of our community, even in adversity. Building a culture of compassion and empathy is essential to sustain them. By healing our healers, we can better serve those we care for.”

For more information about the programme and speakers, visit