Most people have at least one story where they went to a hospital for care and felt like no one really gave much thought to them being there or not. With medical prices so high, patients deserve to be treated well, and be given the communication and confidence they need to approach their care in the right mindset. With that, therapeutic communication in nursing is being implemented all across the country.
In an attempt to make a regular hospital visit feel more like a visit to a concierge healthcare facility, training programmes for therapeutic communication are becoming well-defined, and here are some techniques that have been proven to work in regards to patient comfort during a given hospital visit.
Perhaps the easiest way to make someone feel comfortable is by listening to what they have to say. Sit down with your patient, engage, and be ready to say simple things like ‘I understand’ and a steady flow of nods and other forms of nonverbal agreement.
Talk about past experiences
If a patient has had a similar experience like the one mentioned in the intro, allow that patient to voice her or his concerns in an accepting way, and ensure that you are not going to let a similar experience happen to them on your watch.
Crack a joke
Even brain surgeons will tell you that laughter is a great medicine, and being able to make a patient who is otherwise very tense crack a smile will have a threefold affect on their stay. They will be less stressed, more prepared, and laughter helps that patient trust you more, for future interactions.
This one must come after trust is established, but it’s very rare that someone will believe you if you just shower them with great news the whole time they are at a hospital to deal with an ailment. Sharing some honest-yet-negative feelings about a patient’s situation is important and will add weight to all of the positive things you get to report.
Though the majority of these points revolve around communication, there will certainly be times when confidentiality is necessary for a doctor and patient relationship. Patients need to trust the healthcare system so they can share problems, thoughts and health issues without being judged. Patient confidentiality is a major component in making patients feel comfortable with their current healthcare experience.
Accept the odd
Especially with older patients or patients with mental health issues, there will be some things said that may not make sense to you, but if the patient saying them makes them seem more comfortable, then just roll with it and even play along if it is harmless banter.
Ask for clarification
Rather than just jotting down notes when a patient is sharing their story, ask them some ‘whys’, even if you may already know the answer to the question you’re asking. Being able to further explain oneself adds a level of confidence in what they are doing, which often translates to a higher level of confidence in what you will be doing.
Let them know your schedule
Sharing things about yourself certainty shouldn’t be off the table when trying to build trust with a patient. They will, most likely, be more interested in your job than your life, so letting them know what a day in the work life of a nurse looks like will help add a level of comfort and trust.
Be a friend
Even if you both know it’s a temporary friendship, treating patients like you would treat someone you meet at a bar in Cabo while you’re on vacation will make them feel like more of a peer than a patient. Obviously, getting to the important stuff first is paramount, but then learning about things unrelated to the patient’s visit will bolster trust and confidence.
Set them up to do the talking
If you find yourself with enough time to really dig into a conversation with a patient with whom you are trying to build trust with, start of the conversations very broad so your patient can dive in and start talking about themselves – something that always takes the mind off of whatever ailment they may be visiting for. ‘What is your family like?’ is normally a good one.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.
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