For patients, hospitalization is an extremely difficult time. Not only are they worried about their health, gauging the severity of their condition from the fact that they require round-the-clock care. They also find themselves stressing about the medical bills and being away from their families. However, stress and anxiety further aggravate a patient’s health as they often experience high blood pressure, piercing headaches, and insomnia.
For someone already not in the best of health, these issues caused by the stress of hospitalization can be seriously harmful. Therefore, at this time, nurses must step up and be responsible for providing emotional and mental support to such patients.
The Role of Nurses in Non-Medical Care
Nurses are healthcare professionals; however, their role far exceeds that title. A friend, a carer, a healer, there are many hats that nurses wear in addition to providing medical care. The entire facet of nursing comes under patient care, one of healthcare’s cornerstones. Without proper patient care, the healthcare system cannot sustain itself.
Besides, emotional support is the most important of all the elements that make up patient care. Ensuring the patient’s emotional well-being is imperative for any treatment or recovery. As a nurse, if you often wonder how you can improve the emotional well-being of your patients, here detailed are some tips that can help:
1. Expand Your Knowledge
Improvement always follows knowledge. The more you learn about something, the better you become at it. The same applies to patient care. The more you learn and acquire knowledge in your field, the better care you can provide to your patients. One of the best ways to advance your skills and knowledge is enrolling in one of the online MSN programs offered by reputed universities. By enrolling in an online program, nurses employed full-time can easily study at their own pace and learn new modes of patient care. Moreover, interacting with fellow students enrolled in the same program, you will find new ways to help your patients and look after their emotional well-being.
2. Be a Friend
One of the worst parts about hospitalization is patients’ isolation, being away from the comfort of their homes and families. Being alone in a new place can give rise to negative feelings such as fear and anxiety, which is terrible for emotional health and, in turn, one’s overall recovery. As a nurse, you can help your patients feel less alone by getting to know them. When you meet your patient, don’t act like a healthcare professional but as a friend. Ask about their life, tell them about yours, address them by name, and check in regularly.
It will help your patients build a relationship with you and curb their negative feelings of isolation, which will drastically improve their emotional well-being.
3. Make them Comfortable
As an attending nurse, you are responsible for ensuring that your patients are comfortable and all their needs are met. While already unwell, the last thing patients need is to be uncomfortable in their surroundings. However, due to the unfamiliar environment, patients are often reluctant to raise concerns in a hospital. Make it a regular practice to ask your patients if they need an extra sheet or pillow or whether the room temperature is fine whenever you visit their room. Speak in a comforting tone and show them that you care for them.
In this way, they will feel free to tell you what they need and you will be able to relieve them of unnecessary stress and discomfort by ensuring that everything is according to their comfort and liking.
4. Practice Empathy
A mistake we often make as caregivers is that we confuse sympathy with empathy. While sympathy is a virtue, it seldom helps people feel better. As a healthcare professional, you need to have empathy, which is the ability to understand another person’s pain and suffering. By allowing yourself to relate to your patients, you can provide them with much-needed support during difficult times. A friendly shoulder coupled with an empathic ear is truly a thing of magic and can give one the strength to get through life’s difficulties.
As a nurse, you must work towards truly understanding the spirit of empathy and practicing it every day to provide emotional support to your patients.
5. Explain the Illness
A huge source of anxiety and stress for patients is their fear of their illness/injury. Patients often don’t quite understand the nature of their situation and presume it to be much worse than it is. Unless the condition is worse than they are imagining, have an honest conversation with your patient and explain it to them. As a healthcare professional, you are much better informed about the diagnosis, and one way you can improve your patients’ mental well-being is by helping them understand their illnesses.
By giving your patients a clearer picture of their situation, you can help ease their worries, as knowing the exact risks and treatment details will help them relax and stop overthinking.
6. Address Patient Concerns
Patients undergoing surgery or other intense treatments generally have many concerns regarding their health and treatment. It can also be a source of fear and anxiety. As a nurse, you can provide emotional support by allowing patients to raise their concerns and address them patiently and meticulously. By learning about the treatment and explaining the procedure and side effects, patients often find the situation significantly less dire than they had assumed.
Be the friendly voice of trust for your patients so they can speak to you and express their feelings and anxieties instead of bottling them up within themselves.
Emotional support is very important for patients, and nurses dedicate much of their time to providing just that. It is, after all, essential to look after patients’ emotional well-being, as stress is an established roadblock to treatment and recovery in patients.
By following the above steps, you can improve your patient care and provide better emotional support to them that may lead to patient satisfaction and better outcomes.