A caregiver's day is riddled with overwhelming tasks, and it’s easy to get engrossed in your to-do list so you can check everything off at the end of the day. Usually, you feel like you don’t have the time to find out how patients are feeling or doing.
Do you ever feel guilty that the patient themselves is sometimes taken out of the picture as you go about your day? Do you avoid more meaningful connections with patients so you can finish your work on time?
Healthcare is experiencing compassion crisis, with many patients claiming that the care they receive is lacking in kindness and empathy. This is a sad, because the essence of caregiving is in the caring and not just the doing.
When caregivers focus on finishing their duties, it’s a good thing and a sign of a job well done. But daily job success that is focused on tasks alone is disguised as effective time management and prioritization without taking into consideration how the patient feels about the care they receive or how well the caregiver has helped them.
Compassionate care is a must. Here are helpful tips to turn your doing into caring:
Use the time for care procedures as an opportunity to make meaningful conversation. A well-known quote by Maya Angelou, famous American poet and memoirist, comes to mind: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” This is meaningful connection in action. Patients must not only see what you do but also feel that you genuinely want to help.
Smile a lot. Smiling as you greet patients is the simplest form of kindness, which can have a great impact on their health because it sends a message of hope and positivity. This comes more naturally to some, but every caregiver can make an effort to greet patients warmly, for the sake of providing better care.
Encourage and motivate. Show appreciation when patients cooperate with procedures, even something small like finishing their meals on time. Recognizing patients’ efforts can make them feel good about themselves as well as encourage them to repeat positive behavior.
Use therapeutic touch. A gentle pat on the shoulder and holding their hands when they are in pain or feeling low can uplift their spirit and provide comfort. Another way to use therapeutic touch is by giving massages and backrubs before bedtime or at bath time.
Be gentle in every procedure, especially those that are painful or uncomfortable. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that pain and sickness can bring out the worst in a person. Any discomfort can make a patient irritable and cranky. Do not be tempted to get back at a patient by being harsh with care procedures, such as pulling an incontinence pad without lifting their buttocks first or forcefully removing adhesive strips.
Preserve their dignity. Another great way to turn doing into caring is by preserving the patient’s dignity, especially while performing care procedures where their body can be unnecessarily exposed to others. If you were in their position, you wouldn’t want to be embarrassed in the same way! So, make sure to pull the drapes or close windows and doors while giving a bed bath or changing clothing. Also, never humiliate them by calling them offensive names or mocking them.
Caregiving entails completing long to-do lists and following orders to a T, but let's not forget that the patient is still the center of it all. It’s not enough to just accomplish tasks. Your patients need to see and feel that you genuinely care and do your job from the heart.
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