How competent is your team at engaging a reluctant patient? As a nurse or manager, it’s your job to make sure they have those skills. There’s no substitute for role-playing the skills you want your team to master. It takes five or ten minutes, max, and you’ll know that they’ve got it. Don’t assume they’ve picked it up from watching you.
Arguably one of the most important skills your staff need to master is active listening. Be sincere and empathetic, because your attention validates the patient’s struggle and frustration. Sometimes a friendly smile makes a huge difference.
Make sure that you:
- are fully present (not thinking about the last patient or the next patient),
- have open body language (uncrossed arms, leaning forward),
- are nodding your head and making affirmative noises (“mm-hmm” or “uh-huh”).
When you’re engaged in medication education, remember the handy anagram D.E.A.T.S.
D - Draw Curtain. Partially for privacy, but mostly to block anything that might divert attention from your presentation about a new medicine.
E - Engage Patient. Let your patient hold the pill, or handle the bottle of liquid, and repeat its name. Help them get familiar with what it looks like.
A - Adapt Communication. Use communication methods preferred by the patient. Use everyday language, especially with older folks. Avoid fancy, difficult medical terms.
T - Translate As Necessary. I worked at a hospital in downtown Los Angeles where, on any given day, twenty seven different languages could be spoken. There were caregivers in that hospital able to speak almost every one of those languages. Plus, they had access to phone translators. Get translators involved if necessary!
S - Side Effects. People need to know the potential side effects: how they might feel, what they’ll look like, and what to do if they appear.
The Take Away
Patients that are reluctant to ask questions may be put at ease through active listening. Remember to focus, lean forward, nod, make affirmative noises, smile, and use D.E.A.T.S. to cover all your bases.
Follow Us on Twitter
Like Us on Facebook