Communication is vital to health care and the healing process. Patients are likely to adhere to treatment, have better outcomes, express greater satisfaction, and are less likely to file malpractice suits when communication is effective. For a new nurse, communication can help build satisfying relationships with older patients. Here are tips on how to communicate with older patients.
Make Them Comfortable
The first step is to make the patient comfortable in the waiting area. If they need help filling out forms, assist them. Be aware that older patients might need help getting to exam rooms, offices, restrooms, and back to the waiting area. Check on them if their wait is long.
Introduce yourself clearly and avoid speaking quickly. Let your older patients know from the start that you accept them and want to hear their concerns. In the exam room, speak to everyone and apologize for any delays. If you have new patients, ask questions to promote rapport. You might ask returning patients friendly questions about their family or activities they enjoy.
Do Not Rush Older Patients
It might be challenging for older patients to follow rapid-fire questioning and large chunks of information. Speak slowly and give your patient a moment to understand better what you are saying. Avoid rushing older patients. Remember that the time spent discussing concerns allows you to gather the information that can result in improved cooperation and treatment adherence. Feeling rushed makes older patients feel as though they are not being heard or understood. Is time an issue? Recommend that your patients prepare a list of their health concerns before their appointments.
Avoid Interrupting the Patients
It is common for health care clinicians to interrupt patients in the first seconds of an initial interview. Once the patient is interrupted, the patient is less likely to reveal all their concerns. Unfortunately, another visit or phone call might take place to get the necessary information.
Utilize Active Listening Skills
Face your patient, maintain eye contact, and use frequent, brief responses if your patient is speaking. Active listening keeps the discussion centered and lets your patients know you understand their worries.
Watch for occasions to respond to patients’ emotions. Studies show that a clinician can learn empathy while adding less than one minute to the patient interview. Empathy can also reward you with patient satisfaction, understanding, and adherence to treatment.
Avoid Medical Jargon
Never assume that a patient understands medical terminology or knows much about their illness. Introduce necessary information to older patients by asking what they know about their condition and build on that. Even if a term like MRI, CT scan, or stress test seems commonplace to you, an older patient might be unfamiliar with these tests. Continually check to ensure that your patient understands what you are saying. It might help to have the patient repeat what you are saying or explain the care plan in their own words. Spell or write down diagnoses or crucial terms to remember.
The team at myRN Staffing Solutions understands how challenging it can be to choose where to start your nursing career. Let them help you discover the many options available.