A patient’s health is affected by their entire experience during their stay at a healthcare facility, not just the treatment interventions.
Especially for overnight patients, their interaction with the healthcare workers, their relation with the nurses, and their trust in the staff significantly impact their healing process.
Research has proven that if nurses establish a strong rapport with their patients, the stress both parties experience and the patients’ clinical outcomes can improve.
One reason for this could be that patients who trust their clinicians are more compliant with treatment and more likely to follow up.
Your goal as a nurse is to maximize patient satisfaction and ensure better health outcomes; therefore, it is very important that you, as a team, work on your relationship with the patients. Since nurses are likely to be the ones to spend the most time with patients and have the most one-on-one interaction with them, they play a significant role.
Together with the effort of their healthcare facility, nurses can work on improving their nurse-patient relationships in the following ways:
1. Give the patient greater control
Empower the patient in their healthcare decisions and treatment. Patients should have access to education material, have a say in their treatment plans, and should have the freedom to make suggestions.
One approach that includes such patient empowerment is Holistic care. This approach can be integrated into traditional care to make treatment more effective and establish a better environment for patients to recover completely.
That said, holistic nursing care is an intervention designed to, as the name suggests, target the patient as a whole, with an emphasis on the relationship between mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
One major feature of holistic care is the high degree of involvement from the patient. This supports a symbiotic nurse-patient relationship where the patient feels empowered.
2. Make an effort to know your patients personally
The best way to establish a positive relationship with anyone is to make them feel valued. By asking them about their personal lives and getting to know them personally, you will establish a good rapport.
This can include something as simple as asking them about their interests, hobbies, family members, etc.
It will also provide you with valuable information you can use to enhance your approach toward them.
3. Be an active listener
Your attempt to make the patient open up about their personal lives can backfire if they feel that you aren’t paying attention.
Be an avid listener, occasionally repeat what they say, and respond to their questions. Research shows that only 25% to 50% of what you hear is stored in your memory; thus, listening well is crucial.
In addition to establishing a rapport with the patient, doing so will help you gather valuable information to understand the patient’s concerns better.
When you are busy multitasking, and your mind is loaded to the brim with tasks on your to-do list, you might miss out on important details that your patient is discussing regarding their symptoms.
To exercise active listening, you must withhold judgment, reflect, clarify where needed, summarize, and share.
4. Be respectful
Patients are likely to feel intimidated, nervous, and vulnerable when in a healthcare facility. On top of such powerlessness, if they think that they aren’t respected, their experience will go from bad to worse.
It is of utmost importance that you respect your patient’s beliefs, opinions, well-being, and privacy.
Some medical procedures require patients to expose themselves physically or reveal personal information; make sure that you respect their privacy wherever possible.
One major concern among healthcare professionals is that some patients refuse certain medical interventions because of their personal or religious beliefs.
Although this might be frustrating so don’t disrespect their opinions or choices.
5. Monitor your body language
Your body language says a lot about you and is responsible for 55% of your communication! Your tone of voice makes up 38%, and your words are only responsible for 6% of the message conveyed.
Be open, calm, purposeful, and smooth when communicating with your patient. Show them that you are interested in what they say.
You can achieve this by keeping eye contact but not starting, frequently nodding, smiling, and leaning forward when you are sitting.
All these nonverbal messages communicate interest and openness.
6. Monitor patient satisfaction
Research has shown that post-visit feedback boosts patient rapport and the data you gather helps improve patient satisfaction.
Use such feedback forms to identify problems in the facility’s approach and causes of patient dissatisfaction.
Thereafter you can address these concerns and incorporate new and more effective strategies in your communication style.
Patient satisfaction surveys also help because they make the patients feel that their opinion matters and that their review can contribute to the organization’s success.
On the other side of the equation, you can investigate the effectiveness of every process in your healthcare facility, from making an appointment, waiting, paying the bill, to follow-up reminders.
7. Earn trust through honesty
Often the information you have to communicate to your patients is distressing, and it might be appealing to offer them false comfort and reassurance.
However, promising them that everything will work out fine when the situation is dire will only lose their trust and make distressing news shocking.
Remember not to give up your honesty and integrity in difficult situations.
Secondly, always follow through on what you promise the patient; for instance, if you promise them to come back for a check-up in half an hour, make sure you do so.
Keep your word if you have promised to bring them food or a spare visitor’s chair. When you know that you might be called in for an emergency and not be able to follow through on your word, don’t make the promise in the first place.
Patients should be able to trust your word despite all the uncertainty they are undergoing.
Nurse-patient relationships play a crucial role in patient recovery and their overall experience in the facility.
Sometimes communication barriers and psychological distractors can hinder effective rapport-building with patients.
A tiring day at work, the burden of upcoming task deadlines, or worrying about another patient’s condition can ruin your mood but monitor your interaction with your patients.
Practice active listening, make the patients feel empowered, show respect, be honest, and earn your patients’ care.
Remember that your patients are relying on you when they feel most vulnerable and require your support and assistance.
Your relationship with them will significantly impact the standard of care.