According to a study, as many as 30% of hospitalized patients are hesitant to speak up about their care. And this results in poor patient experience as well as safety issues. Patients need to know that they can reach out and talk to someone who is willing to listen and help.
Nursing assistants play a crucial role in bridging communication gaps between the patient and the healthcare team because the rapport is already there and they spend the most time with the patient.
However, there are still some reasons why patients hold back. They sometimes think it’s pointless to do so, or they just don’t know how to bring the subject up. In case you feel that your patient has something to say and still hesitates to talk, these tips below should prod them to share their concerns with you:
1. Establish trust.
Show sincerity when you care for patients. Be approachable and kind. Offer to sit with them. When patients see that you genuinely want to help them, it will establish trust and make it easier for them to open up and talk. Trust is the foundation of great patient care, and without it, the patient will likely keep to themselves and be frustrated.
2. Give them your undivided attention and make eye contact.
For patients to verbalize their feelings comfortably, you must find time to stop everything else and talk to them for a few minutes. Look at the patient in the eye and smile because this signals that you are there for them.
If, for example, they tell you something important while in the middle of a procedure, finish up and then ask them to tell you more about it. You’ll be able to communicate more effectively when you are both not busy and undistracted.
3. Listen intently.
Listening is an important and effective part of communication. When you listen attentively, it conveys that you are willing to understand the patient's situation. Give them time to talk uninterrupted. And when you respond, begin with a summary of what they said. Recounting what the patient has said shows that you listened, and it's an efficient way of encouraging patients to open up more.
4. Ask them directly.
When patients speak up about their concerns, it opens opportunities for improvement. It is the first step to finding solutions. One of the best ways to encourage them to talk is to ask them directly.
Use these below as great conversation starters:
‘Do you have any concerns?”
“What’s on your mind today?”
“How are you feeling?”
These questions make conversations more meaningful because it allows the patient to discuss their feelings and worries freely. The use of broad openings or open-ended questions focuses the conversation on them.
Use the following questions to help them elaborate if they find it difficult to provide details.
“Can you tell me more about this concern of yours?”
“What would you like to happen?”
“Do you have any suggestions on how we can make this possible for you?”
5. Reach out to their family.
Some patients may find it hard to talk to staff but not with their loved ones. So, alternatively, you may ask the family instead. Check, also, if having a family or friend with them in the room would make them more comfortable speaking up.
Both strategies are helpful when the patient is confused or has trouble communicating. Family members who know the patient best can speak on their behalf. You can confirm with the patient later on, if possible.
Once the patient says what's on their mind, be reminded that it doesn't end there. The next step, which is just as important, is to be prepared to meet their needs, or else it would seem that everything that the patient has said has fallen on deaf ears.
Share the patient's concerns with the healthcare team so that together, the staff can find solutions to improve the quality of care and patient experience.
When CNAs help patients speak up, they become instrumental in achieving patient care goals.
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