An introduction to leading with kindness and compassion in health and social care

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With so many overlapping pressures facing the health and social care system, and the inequities that many groups continue to experience, kindness and compassion are qualities that can be hard to practice and sustain.

Research has shown a compelling link between compassion in leadership and staff wellbeing, team performance, and better outcomes for patients and service users. The NHS People Plan even recognises compassion as a national priority.

As well as deepening your understanding and knowledge of leadership in the health and care system, this course will also help you develop your own practice of kind and compassionate leadership.

You’ll hear from leaders and experts from across the health and care system and explore some practical ways that you can both develop a compassionate mindset and cultivate kindness and compassion in your relationships with others.

Who is it for?

You will benefit from this course if you are:

  • working in health and social care, regardless of sector, role or seniority
  • a leader in the NHS, local government, independent and voluntary, community or social enterprise sector
  • a student thinking about working within the health and social care system
  • or, a patient, service user or carers who uses the health and social care system.

How will you benefit from this programme?

On completing the course, you will start to develop:

  • a personal practice of kind and compassionate leadership
  • an evidence-based understanding as to why kindness and compassion is important for improving outcomes, staff wellbeing and performance, and inclusive organisational cultures
  • better awareness of your own leadership behaviours and the behaviours you see around you in the workplace
  • simple and everyday techniques to model self-compassion and kindness towards others
  • a view of the wider systemic issues that prevent kindness and compassion from being present in health and care
  • an appreciation of the different ways in which we define the concepts of leadership, kindness and compassion.

How will you learn?

Start learning straight away on this free self-guided course. Once you enrol, you will have three weeks to complete the course at your own pace. Study time is approximately two hours per week. Delivered via FutureLearn, you'll have the opportunity to meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions at every stage of your learning.


The King's Fund FutureLearn courses are all free of charge. If you wish to extend your access to the course materials beyond the length of the course, or gain a certificate of completion, you’ll need to purchase upgraded access.

All of The King's Fund online courses are available on demand as they are self-directed courses that you complete at your own pace. Please note that your access to the course starts from the date of enrolment and free access is limited to the duration of the course (which is indicated on the front page of the course). 

In order to gain a certificate for these courses, you will need to purchase upgraded access. 

Programme team


Mark Doughty

Senior Consultant, Leadership & Organisational Development


Simon Newitt

Senior Consultant, Leadership & Organisational Development

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Start developing your understanding of how to lead with compassion and kindness within the health and social care sectors on this free online course today.

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