Put Yourself in the Shoes of Patient Families

Being There for Patient Families

Hospital stays are stressful for patients and their families. Families worry. They’re possibly confused.

During this difficult time, it’s easy for those feelings to come out as anger and irritability. Facing these negative emotions constantly wears nurses down.

To continue providing the best patient care, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of the patient family. When you see it from their viewpoint, you can better understand the situation, find ways to help them and be their go-to resource.

Putting the Needs of Others First

Susan Abbott, Clinical Director for TaleMed, has nearly two decades of experience as a nursing professional. She remembers having a patient years ago who had a horrible headache.

“It turned out she had a slow bleed in her brain and was rushed into surgery,” says Susan. “Everything seemed to go well, but the next morning she was on life support. It was my responsibility to call the family – a father and two young boys – to come in and say goodbye.”

Delivering this life-altering news is the worst duty for nurses. All you can do in such circumstances is communicate clearly, answer the family’s questions and be fully present. This is the time to put your own worries aside and help families through this earliest stage of grief.

Get to the Root Cause

In her role at TaleMed, Susan mentors healthcare professionals who have patient care concerns. She recommends to nurses that if they have five minutes of downtime, the simple act of taking a cup of coffee to a family member and asking if there’s anything they need goes a long way. “Most nurses already know to do this,” says Susan. “In some situations, these small gestures go a long way to help with your communications with patients and their families.”

When working with an irritated patient or family, breaking the ice can help establish a rapport. Susan believes you can get a true sense of what’s going on with a patient and the family by asking directly.

“In this way, you can find the cause of their fear or anger, says Susan. She noted that less experienced nurses may not have dealt with a variety of emotional people yet. Sometimes a patient’s bad attitude stems from not understanding a doctor’s diagnosis and not knowing the questions to ask.

“As a nurse, you can be that resource for them,” says Susan. “Find out what they need and ask the doctor for them. That little bit of comfort can go a long way.”

Start your next adventure!

If you haven’t traveled with TaleMed, you can take your first step today. Contact a TaleMed recruiter by calling 1-800-494-0087 or completing our Quick Application.

Advice from Susan