It seems strange for being in the hospital to be such an isolating and lonely experience. After all, patients are surrounded by people and being cared for. Yet, for many patients, their only social interaction is the daily nursing rounds. Of course, being in the hospital should be a time for family and friends to gather around a person. It is a time to show love and care, spend time together and be a part of the patient care and healing process.
During open visitation, patients were able to get enough social interaction to get them through the day. But following the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital guidelines have changed. Loved ones are no longer permitted to visit patients for fear of spreading the virus. Loved ones often can’t even attend an appointment at the doctor’s office. Therefore, for patients in the hospital, the hours of the day sprawl before them with no breaks or visitors. And for those attending routine treatments, such as chemotherapy or dialysis, it can be a confusing and unsettling experience.
But what can medical professionals do to help? Here, we’ll consider a few tips for managing patient care when loved ones aren’t permitted to be with them.
Take time for explanation
This one is easier said than done. In a typical shift, most medical professionals feel as if they are being pulled in all directions. It seems there aren’t enough hours in a shift to cover all the tasks required. But rushing through a consultation or history can make mistakes more likely.
For the patient, it is also a whirlwind experience. They are alone, fending for themselves in the medical setting. And suddenly, they are faced with a barrage of questions. Or more needles than a pin cushion. Instead, take time to explain what’s going on as you are working. A short two-minute chat, while dressing a wound or administering a vaccine, can work wonders, putting a lonely patient at ease and making the rest of the job much easier.
Communicate as clearly as possible
In a time when social distancing and wearing masks has become the norm, it can be difficult to communicate clearly. Of course, keeping yourself and the patient protected is critical. However, elderly patients, or those hard of hearing, often depend largely on reading lips to understand what people are saying. In this instance, consider wearing a transparent mask or using a face shield so they can see your lips moving. Without being able to read lips, oftentimes these patients will nod affirmation. But they may be too embarrassed to admit they couldn’t hear or understand. Ask them to repeat what you said.
Otherwise, maintain open body language. If you can, sit down, look the patient in the eye, and mirror the patient’s body language. By doing so, you’ll build a connection, and from there, rapport and good communication can follow.
Write a summary
For older patients in the hospital, receiving a treatment, or attending a doctor’s appointment on their own, it can be worrying. Typically, they might have had their children or partner by their side. Now they’re faced with remembering the entire consultation themselves. They might struggle with some terms or forget which medications to take. To help them remember, write a summary covering the salient points of the appointment, including a list of tests performed, medication changes, follow-up care and appointments. It can help both the patient and those who help with their care.
If managing patient care is important to you, you’ll like How to Show You Care While Wearing a Mask