One thing I know for sure is that nobody likes to visit the hospital, especially for the first time. Everybody wants to treat themselves at home.
Unfortunately, every individual patient and family experience anxiety, stress, pain and fear in the hospital, and even healthcare workers too.
As a dental professional or healthcare provider, it will get to a point in your career whereby you have faced so many challenges with a patient or patient’s family at times. It may be as a result of conflict between you and the family member of the patient you are taken care or patient that is very anxious about his health care plan.
How to reduce anxiety and reassure patients in nursing and healthcare
In a study conducted by sheffied Hallam university identify the ways in which nurses can reassure patients and be effective in helping anxious patients to feel calmer or more secure. It is very important to all nurses who work in close day-to-day contact with people under stress.
The study uses the Inferential Model of Communication as its main theoretical foundation, emphasizing the value of identifying the intentions of the communicator and the inferences made by the respondent.
It establishes a Nursing definition of the verb “to reassure patients” as “an attempt by nurses to communicate with patients who are anxious, worried or distressed with the intention of inducing them to predict that they are safe or safer than they presently believe or fear”.
Here are tips that might help.
Provide Comfort and Reassurance to your patients
What is very important when dealing with anxious patients is to listen? Take two minutes of your time to sit down and talk with your patient. Ask an open ended question like “how are you feeling?” or “is there anything I can do to make you feel more comfortable?
2. Let your patient know everything that you are doing and why you are doing it
Most people’s have not been to your hospital before and they are not familiar with the hospital environment with so much fear on what to expect. They don’t know the hospital routine like some of your other patients.
Before you enter the room, make sure you are prepared. you must know all the instruments and the new medications to give to your patients and let them know what to expect with any procedures that will be done for that day or the next day. If you can’t answer all their questions then find someone who can.
Older patients and children require special attention and patience. Have an interest in their problems. Addressing them by name is preferable to terms to such as ‘dear’. Anxiety can be alleviated by a sympathetic approach. If patients have a wrong idea about dentistry and other healthcare settings, do not belittle them. Give a firm assurance that you understand how they feel.
Don’t tell your patient to relax, show them how
Do not tell someone who is anxious to relax. IT DOESN’T WORK. Instead, ask them what you can do to help them relax.
Some patients we tell you what they want. If they cannot tell you, then help them with some relaxation techniques. Give direction “breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.” Take some vital signs just to make sure they aren’t anxious for a medical reason. Dim the lights. Ask their family members to step out for a moment to let the patient rest.
It is unethical to discuss members of staff with patients. Remember that other patients may be able to overhear your conservation, and will get a very poor impression both of you and of the practice.
Check your patient from time to time
Let the patient or family know that you will be checking in with them or “rounding” on them every hour just to make sure everything is okay. Explain the plan of care including medication schedule, repositioning or procedural preparations for the day/night. Introduce the on-coming nurse during report and reassure the patient that they will be in good hands.
This commences a good relationship on both sides and breaks down tension to some degree. After treatment is finished see that the patient leaves the surgery feeling satisfied and comfortable. Do not keep them chanting unnecessarily. See that they have their next appointment and the surgery telephone number, in case they should need this.
5. Prepare yourself for stressful situations
Understand how you feel when a negative emotional response like anxiety or fear is activated in your body. It can feel like a knot in your stomach, a fast heart rate or tense muscles. Recognize these feelings and take a couple of deep breaths before you speak or act.
If you get in a report that a particular patient or family is anxious, prepare yourself to “practice your patience.” Use this as an opportunity to train yourself to remain calm in stressful situations and learn how to reassure patients throughout your practice.
Being in the hospital is not for fun. Patients have every right to be anxious. Learning how to manage stress in yourself and reassure patients is a unique skill that can be carried with you throughout your entire career. Difficult people are everywhere and are in every profession. Take this opportunity to “practice your patience.”