Patients may face a litany of fears and anxieties when receiving care. Healthcare facilities can be frightening places for those who aren’t used to them, and this may exacerbate fear or anxiety they may be already feeling about medical conditions they or loved ones are facing.
To provide patient-centered care, healthcare professionals must comfort and reassure patients at every step of the way. There are three things you can instruct your staff to do to ensure patients feel supported.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) says that nurses should “respect the inherent dignity, worth, unique attributes, and human rights of all individuals.” Furthermore, nurses must “establish relationships of trust and provide nursing services according to need, setting aside any bias or prejudice,” according to the ANA.
Patients should feel that they themselves and their point of view are respected at all times by nursing staff. This pertains to elements of race, gender identity, LGBTQ+ populations, religious beliefs, and socioeconomic status.
Patients need to feel that they are the focus of everyone who comes into their room. They shouldn’t feel that medical staff are pressed for time. Instead, they should feel that caregivers are devoting every second of their attention directly to that patient.
To keep staff focused on the patient, there are a few best practices you can implement. Help your staff prioritize and delegate tasks. Minimize outside conversations and gossip. Implement quiet zones. Empower your nurses to say “no” to outside distractions if they are engaged with a patient. And teach them to stop and listen to the patient as they are speaking—rather than multitask, which has been shown to increase errors.
Beyond being knowledgeable and confident, nurses should bring a spirit of empathy to everything that they do. Above all else, patients deserve kindness.
“We know that patients need certain things to feel good about their healthcare experience,” said Anne Dabrow Woods, DNP, RN, CRNP, ANP-BC, AGACNP-BC, FAAN, Chief Nurse, Wolters Kluwer Health, Learning Research & Practice. “Patients want empathy; they want kindness because they are afraid. Everything that’s happening to them is new, and they want to feel that they are being really cared for by people who actually care about how they’re experiencing things within healthcare.”
With the constant stress faced by medical staff, empathy can decrease over time. This is unfortunate because empathy is associated with improved patient outcomes, greater patient safety and fewer malpractice claims. Therefore, it’s important for nurses to occasionally ground themselves and remember why it is they got into nursing in the first place—to care for others.
Instilling these three practices also will not only improve patient satisfaction; they will help make your nurses more competent. Having the right attitude and values are components of holistic nursing, a core pillar of nurse competency that should be given weight comparable to being able to perform core nursing skills. By ensuring that your nurses are showing respect, focus and empathy, you’ll help foster a culture of caring that goes beyond providing exceptional healthcare.
To hear more from our chief nurse, Anne Dabrow Woods, watch 2019 Macrotrends in Nursing: Reimagining the Future - The Culture of Caring.