Throughout today’s discussion various moments truly hit home to me, especially in regards to communicating with patients and families. People come to hospitals often in their most dire time of need, not to simply chat and sip coffee. Stress, fear, anger, and uncertainty mar the face of these individuals, leaving them to appear disfigured in comparison to their standard facade…leaving them at their most vulnerable. As healthcare workers it is our duty to identify that these people are hurting and understand that communication can assist in stopping the hemorrhage of “what if’s” and begin to help with the healing process.
Bringing to light that it is normal for individuals to have questions, I feel, is so important. As it was examined today, asking patients and families “what concerns you?” or “what bothers you about this?” truly provides an opportunity for individuals to stand up for themselves without feeling the pressures of social norms or cultural rules. Affording them the chance to take control of their own health as a partner through supporting questions allows for the medical team to truly hone in on patient centered care, patient safety, and the patient experience. Expecting questions and phrasing it as such has the ability to empower the patient, families, and caregivers to a point in which they truly take the reins to their care and allow us to simply be their guide.
So my charge to all of us: expect questions, encourage them even, and never stop seeking to provide patients and families the opportunity to be part of their own care team.