Nurse recognition for compassion when caring for an elderly patientWritten by Bonnie and Mark Barnes, Founders of The Daisy Foundation

In 1999, my 33-year-old stepson, Patrick Barnes, died of complications of ITP, an auto-immune disease. We spent eight weeks in the hospital with Patrick, experiencing the best of care from a team of nurses whose clinical skill and compassionate care touched us deeply. When Pat died, we were compelled to express our gratitude for the work nurses do every day — work they take for granted but that makes a profound difference in the patient and family experience. We created The DAISY Foundation™ (an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System) and an ongoing nurse recognition program for extraordinary care called The DAISY Award® to express our gratitude.

Never did we imagine that, 18 years after Patrick’s death, The DAISY Award would be celebrating extraordinary compassionate care in more than 3,000 healthcare facilities and schools of nursing, internationally. More than 1 million times, patients, family members, and coworkers have taken a moment to share their gratitude for a nurse by nominating them for The DAISY Award. These nomination stories reflect experiences patients, families, and others never forget.

Why Nurses?

We feel strongly that all healthcare organizations should have a recognition program for all employees. So, why honor nurses with their own international recognition program celebrating compassionate care, as opposed to simply including them in the employee of the month or other staff-wide recognition plans?

Registered nurses represent the largest percentage of a healthcare facility’s staff. Nurses spend more time with patients and families than any other healthcare professional, and their importance in the overall care experience is paramount. Patient satisfaction is largely driven by nursing care. Their work demands a special combination of brainpower and heart. We don’t see how a patient’s story of a nurse’s care can compare with any other professional in the hospital. So, we compare nurses’ stories with other nurses’ stories, “apples to apples,” so to speak.

The sizeable pool of nominations generated by our nurse-focused recognition program provides administrators with an understanding of how an organization’s mission and values are being delivered. Nominations provide qualitative insight into the quantitative patient satisfaction data an organization collects, such as HCAHPS. Multiple nominations for the same nurse reveal the strengths of this individual, and that can help guide their professional development.

DAISY Award nominees are role models for their colleagues. During the award presentation, held inside their unit, the Honoree’s nomination story is read aloud, providing a real-life example of the quality of care leaders expect of their nursing staff. These examples can also contribute to documents for journeys to excellence, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet® or the Pathway to Excellence® designation.

DAISY is all about ongoing recognition. This is accomplished with frequent presentations of The DAISY Award throughout the year, as well as the recognition of every nurse who is nominated. Knowing that someone has taken the time to share their story of care has a great impact on nurses, whether a DAISY Honoree or a nominee. DAISY honors each nominee with a special nomination pin to be proudly worn on the nominee’s I.D. badge.

As a nominee once said, “I may not have been chosen by my hospital, but my patient chose me. That’s what really matters.” This nurse went on to say what we hear again and again from those nominated for or honored with The DAISY Award: “Thank you for reminding me why I became a nurse.”

Finally, the literature demonstrates the strategic value of DAISY as a form of meaningful recognition and its impact on positive work environments. The evidence of the impact of nurse-focused meaningful recognition on a healthy work environment, nurse engagement (especially compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction), and on the patient/family experience is compelling, as summarized on our website.

DAISY and HealthcareSource

At DAISY, we believe that honoring nurses for their extraordinary compassionate care reinforces the importance of compassion in healthcare, a quality we can never permit to fade away, no matter how many tasks nor how much technology is required to take care of patients.

HealthcareSource enables its client healthcare organizations to identify, develop, and grow caregivers to deliver patient-centered care. The company includes compassion as a critical dimension for hiring. When we saw that elements like behavioral assessments are scientifically validated, the alignment in our work became clear. With HealthcareSource’s tools for hiring the right talent for the right position and nurturing that talent to provide higher quality care, delivered with compassion, we expect to see many more powerful DAISY Award nominations in the HealthcareSource’s client organizations.

By supporting The DAISY Foundation’s work, HealthcareSource demonstrates its commitment to the nursing profession and brings their corporate values to life. That commitment speaks volumes to us at DAISY, having spent the last 18 years expressing gratitude to nurses for the care and the difference they make, every day, in the lives of others.

Learn how HealthcareSource clients are achieving nursing excellence through talent and learning management best practices with our white paper “Journey to Magnet Excellence® How Talent Management Influences Nursing Distinction.” 

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About The Daisy Corner

The mission of The DAISY Foundation is to honor the extraordinary compassionate care nurses provide patients and families every day. It was established in 1999 in memory of J. Patrick Barnes, by members of his family. Patrick died at the age of 33 from complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), a little known but not uncommon auto-immune disease. (DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System.) The care Patrick and his family received from Nurses while he was ill inspired the creation of The DAISY Award® for Extraordinary Nurses, an evidenced-based means of providing Nurse recognition and thanking Nurses for making a profound difference in the lives of their patients and patient families. In addition to the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, the Foundation expresses gratitude to the nursing profession internationally in over 4,700 healthcare facilities and schools of nursing with recognition of direct care Nurses, Nurse-led Teams, Nurse Leaders, Nurses Advancing Health Equity, Nursing Faculty, Nursing Students, Lifetime Achievement in Nursing and through the J. Patrick Barnes Grants for Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice Projects, Health Equity Grants and Medical Mission Grants. More information is available at