Several years ago I was inspired as I read writings from Stephen Post and Thomas Kitwood defining love in dementia care.
“Love within the context of dementia care includes comfort in the original sense of tenderness, closeness, the calming of anxiety and bonding.” (Kitwood, 2003)
“Altruistic love involves both a judgement of worth, and a related affirmative affection. Love is manifest in care, which is love in response to the other in need; it is manifest in compassion, which is love in response to the other in suffering; it is manifest in companionship, which is love attentively present with the other in ordinary moments.” (Post 2003)
As I reflected on their writings, I thought of my esteemed colleague Misha Butot – Fourteen years after graduating as a social worker, while working as a counsellor, educator and yoga teacher, she recognized that love was a theme in all of her work. As a masters student Misha approached people across Western Canada who were involved in social justice work. She asked them if love was relevant in their work and what love in professional practice looked like for them. Even though they were diverse in age, gender, work and focus, ten common themes emerged. Fourteen years later, I approached Misha and asked if we could revisit those themes and translate them into plain English.
As we worked on this “translation” we were inspired by the stories from the research participants, we reflected on our own lives and we wrote a personal commitment to love in our professional practice.
This year, as we consider the most important theme of cultural safety in health care, I am inspired by the thoughts of Dr. James Makokis, an indigenous physician, “Racism is hate. The opposite of hate is love.” and he asks, “How will you infuse love into your organization?”
In this month of February, as many celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and friendship, I invite you to consider:
What does love look like in your practice?
How do you infuse love into your organization?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.