Kindness… it’s a word that is becoming more uncommon in healthcare today. Buzzwords such as safety, data, and health apps have filled the health industry so that it would be a really nice surprise if the term ‘kindness’ were to be found in written policies, procedures, and manuals.
Ironically, 64% of Americans had experienced an unkind behavior while receiving care. These negative experiences were in the form of health workers not connecting with their patients (think about a machine with a robotic voice telling a patient what’s wrong with them), and the staff being rude to them, not listening to them enough or not giving them an opportunity to ask questions.
Why kindness is a dying virtue these days, we could only think of a few reasons. Perhaps because being nice means giving away some of the most difficult things to give up, such as time, effort, and convenience, in a life where everything needs to be rushed, instant, and high-tech.
Yet studies say that kindness has the power to heal. It goes beyond the physical aspect of health, and it has the ability to uplift the spiritual and emotional state of a person, something that medication would not be able to do permanently without side effects. And another great thing about doing acts of compassion that most are not so aware of, is that it heals not only the receiver of such acts but also the giver. Kindness completes the meaning of caring because it unfolds the humanity in the service we provide.
For certified nursing assistants who spend the most significant time with the patient doing bedside care, here are some ways that can restore the patients' faith in healthcare workers and in humanity in general:
1. Be genuine and sincere. No act will be kind if it is without sincerity.
2. Smile a lot. It is the simplest form of kindness.
3. Say kind words. Words always have a huge impact. Have a real conversation and create a connection.
4. Practice therapeutic touch. Holding someone's hands in times of pain can make any ordeal more bearable.
5. Show your presence. Being there for the patients, even by just sitting beside them would mean a lot in making them feel that they are not alone in their difficult moments.
6. Give more time. With a nursing assistant’s usual workload, this must be the most difficult to do, but taking time to listen to a patient is already a special way of showing that you care.
7. Go the extra mile. Make someone happy by giving value to what patients consider important. It could be as simple as bringing a patient’s favorite flower from your garden.
More than doing random acts of kindness, there must be a strong push to make kindness a permanent part of our work culture. We should not let this virtue die out because we are either too busy and tired or too rigid in following protocols. We should be kind because it is the only thing that can truly humanize the workplace. Consider this is as one of the greatest challenges to all nursing assistants – to make kindness as natural and effortless as breathing.
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