Bedside manner is not always the first concern of medical professionals, but those that make it a priority often see better patient satisfaction. If you are caring for a sick friend or family member, it’s useful to learn the same lesson. Particularly in a hospice environment where there’s a great deal of one-on-one interaction between caregivers and patients, it’s important for you to be empathic while helping your loved one. Here are a few ways that family members and friends can practice better bedside manner.,
- Active listening
It’s extremely important for you to fully understand the feelings of your loved one and their daily fluctuation of emotions. With this understanding, you can identify apprehensions the patient may have about a specific treatment, or spot developing issues like depression. That begins with active listening and related communication skills. While many over-worked physicians in a hospital are rushed to see many patients in a short amount of time, you’re able to have in-depth communications about your patient’s health and living situation. This can lead to better care.
- A gentle touch
Physical contact is also important in the caregiver-patient relationship. Don’t be afraid to touch a sick friend or loved one. Most patients report higher satisfaction when a caregiver simply starts an interaction with a handshake or hug. This is easily taken for granted, but this small amount of contact lets the patient know that you care about them and that you’re invested in their care. It’s a physical signal that you’re focused and ready to listen. For patients who may be feeling isolated, this small amount of human contact, and the accompanying conversation, can make their day. When you’re caring for a loved one, it’s a relatively easy step to take to make your friend or family member more comfortable.
- Open ended questions
Many physicians use yes or no questions when diagnosing patients. This is an efficient way to learn about illness, but not an effective way to learn about a patient’s overall health. Open ended questions like “How does this feel?” give patients an opportunity to discuss their opinions about treatment options, medications and their current health. While their answer to “Does it hurt?” might be “No”, your open ended question gives them a chance to explain other symptoms besides pain that are concerning. This strategy is also helpful to create a dialogue between you and the patient, rather than a straightforward interview where items are simply checked off a list. Open ended questions show patients that you’re interested in them, and interested in building a rapport. While you may have a well-established relationship already, stepping into the role of caregiver often comes with strains on that relationship. Taking some additional steps to show your friend or loved one that you’re invested in them and their care is important.
- Non-verbal communication
While the choice of words is important to patient satisfaction, non-verbal communication like body language makes a big difference. Making eye contact, being still, and avoiding defensive stances like crossed arms helps you establish that you are listening and taking to heart the concerns of the patient. In many cases, the more relaxed and confident you are, the more at ease the patient feels, which enables them to feel more comfortable sharing details about their symptoms. In addition, you’ll need to be observant and take notice of the body language that your patient displays. Their body language can give clues about topics they’re embarrassed about, or uncomfortable discussing, without you having to explain yourself. Over time, these observations help a hospice caregiver anticipate the patient’s needs just like a close friend who always seems to know when you need to be cheered up.
At RoseRock Healthcare, we make extra kindness at the bedside a priority. Each staff member is encouraged to end each interaction by asking “Is there anything more I can do for you today?” We believe even small tasks like an extra fluffing of pillows make a big difference.
To learn more about our hospice services and our philosophy of care, contact us at 918-236-4866.