As a front-line clinician, your shifts as a nurse certainly include interaction with patients’ families. Visits from family and friends are beneficial for the patient and welcomed in health care facilities most of the time. However, a hospital can be a highly emotional environment, and it can make handling some of the visitors a challenge. It can be challenging to perform your job as a nurse when you have intimidating, aggressive, or overbearing visitors. Here are ways to handle your patient’s visitors.
If you want to start right with visitors, it is crucial that you introduce yourself and begin to build rapport with visitors. Take the initiative and explain on the front end what everyone should expect. Let them know who else might be assisting in the process, and let them know how often someone will be by to check on the patient. It is essential to understand that visitors will have questions and concerns and be ready to answer them.
If you recognize a negative shift in a visitor’s behavior, it is crucial that you investigate the problem and diffuse it. Allow visitors to express their feelings and discuss what is bothering them. Acknowledge their concerns with empathy. It will help you understand the situation from the visitor’s point of view.
If tensions do escalate, it is wise to stay calm. If a visitor becomes angry or aggressive, keep a physical distance between you. Maintain a composed voice, speak slowly, and use a low volume tone. In these circumstances, it is easy to get defensive. However, it is always best not to escalate the problem with more negativity.
Pause for them to refrain from venting, and never interrupt them. At this point, please acknowledge that you hear what the visitor is saying and enter the conversation. Once you are back in the talk, you are back in control of the conversation. From here, you can guide them to a solution. If inappropriate behavior happens, it is vital that you set boundaries. If the environment is unsafe, remove yourself and call security.
It is essential to notify the charge nurse if issues occur on the floor. Document the details of the event. Summarize what took place and describe how you handled it. Documenting events is an excellent habit to maintain for legal reasons. It is also effective at making other healthcare providers aware of the situation for future care.
When there is conflict, and you are possibly involved in an altercation, the situation takes your elevated stress levels to a new high. Carefully think about how you feel and give yourself time to process your feelings. It helps to do what you need to do to feel better. Conversations with a friend or coworker or journaling can help. Remember that you are doing the best you can, and you are not responsible for someone else’s bad reaction to stress.
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