Are you too busy to actually find time to engage with patients?
For many, this is an all too common issue because of overloaded schedules and an understaffed ward. However, it is important to connect with your patients as people in order to heal and take care of them properly.
Being able to communicate effectively can help in nurturing patient satisfaction and even help in minimizing medical errors. Guiding the elderly to the lavatory or helping the sick eat or change their clothes are some of the basic things you can do to let them know they are being well taken care of.
If you’re in need of help in discovering ways to establish a good relationship with your patients, then take a look through some of the simple techniques we’ve listed down below.
Use simple words
For you to be completely and fully understood, always use simple English and avoid the technical terms. This shows that you care for them on a personal level, helping you close the distance between yourself and the patient a little better.
Never appear uninterested
Conversing with patients, especially with the elderly, requires some time as some of them have difficulties in expressing what exactly what they feel or exactly what’s going on through their heads. Give them your full attention, and do not appear to be in a rush. This will give tell them that you are genuinely concerned for their well-being.
Talk clearly and slowly
A warm and well-modulated voice will help your patients absorb the information you dispense and help them commit to memory the things they need to do in order for them to get better.
Use your hands to communicate and examine
If you can’t draw a diagram, use your hands to help them understand what you’re trying to say. For instance, you can use your clenched fist and an open hand resisting your fist to demonstrate how bone density prevents fractures, for example.
Listen to your patients
Sometimes, your silent presence speaks more than a dozen empty words. Giving at least two minutes of your time to listen to your patient’s complaints will make them feel important and give them the impression that they’re being given your full attention.
No matter how mundane, insignificant, or out of scope their thoughts seem to be, always be ready to hunker down and listen. If you’re in need of an example, here’s a funny nurse story that demonstrates some good listening!
Going the extra mile by giving kids some treats or toys they can eat or play around with will help them recover fast. For older patients, even something as simple as a “Get well soon!” note will also surely help a lot in making them feel better.
Always anticipate your patient’s needs
Each patient has their individual needs and quirks. By making the effort to know each patient individually and catering to their needs, you will be able to give your best effort. Patients and their family are surprisingly very perceptive and can remember the nurses that are doing an amazing job.
Initiate small talk
By simply asking about how they slept last night or how they feel at the moment, patients will find you warm and accommodating. You’re there not only to do the rounds but also to check on them in a manner similar to how a close family member or loved one would do. This is especially important nowadays when many patients (especially the elderly) are missing their family because they are too far away.
Be a beacon of positivity
Always have a smile ready. Tell them how you’d like to see them get healthy and that you’d like to see them get better. Especially if the patient has no one else to turn to at the moment, a simple display of positivity and care can help lighten up their mood and encourage them to get better.
To have even just one person cheering them on to get better makes a huge impact on their will to recover.
If possible, tell them you’ll visit them again.
Simple acts of kindness can go a long way. If you’ve seen that the patient has warmed up to you and gotten used to you as their attending nurse, if it’s within your capabilities or within the constraints of your busy schedule, tell them that you’ll be seeing them again on your next shift (even if you don’t technically have to!) Also, make sure not to forget to introduce the incoming nurse!
Nurses don’t have the luxury to take their time in making sure that their able to talk to and comfort their patients. However, it’s important to recognize that it’s a task that should not be ignored. It’s hard to squeeze in these everyday interactions, but these simple tips can go a long way with making sure that you properly connect to your patients and build that nurse to patient rapport. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your patient’s health and mood improve!
Lang, E. V. (2012). A better patient experience through better communication. Journal of radiology nursing, 31(4), 114-119.