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Four Ways to Make a BIG Difference in Patient Care
Date Posted: 24/Feb/2013


Similar to our law enforcement counterparts, nurses often have to deal with people who fall into the Sad, Mad or Bad categories. We don’t see our patients/clients/residents at their best and sometimes they don’t bring out the best in us. Despite our intentions to provide the best patient care, when the time, effort, energy crunch is on, it is easy to fall down the slippery slope to, well, I’ll just be frank…nastiness.
Let’s not! Let’s rise above and try to apply small changes to make a BIG difference in patient care. 
This is what your patients want you to know:
1.  Help me feel human.  I have been poked, prodded, tested and scanned. I don’t feel special, unique or important. I feel like a number, a product, a ‘case.’ Make me feel more human by using my name, looking in my eyes, taking my hand and not talking about me, but by talking to me.
2.  Empower me.  I am used to being in control. I am a spouse, a parent, a community leader. People count on me. I am not used to feeling too vulnerable and out of control. So many people seem to be in control of what’s going on with my illness, I feel helpless. You can allow me to be an active player in this game that I have been forced to play. Let me make small choices and be a part of important decisions. Even though I may not understand the terminology, I have the brains to contribute to my care plan. Communicate my choices to me and let me be involved.
3.  Ease my fear.  I am sick and petrified. I do not know what lies ahead. My job, my finances, my family, everything is hanging. My fright shows up as anger to you, but please don’t take it personally. I have so much going on, so many fears, questions and burdens. You are seeing me at my worst, and this is not the me I am used to, but still your calm voice and your composed presence can help me ease my fears.
4.   Treat me with respect.  Ask me before you call me by my first name please. Honour my family, too, as they are an extension of me and they are hurting also. I know you have seen this and done this a thousand times, but I have not. Preserve my dignity and self respect; be polite, explain until I understand and let patience reign.
I know you have a difficult, demanding job as a nurse. I know you are a skilled decision maker and have clinical expertise. I know you are overworked, tired and ‘short.’ I know you try your best and I know that we, your patients, sometimes don’t make it easy for you; some of us are sad, mad and bad. But by doing these little things, you can make us glad we have you on our side!
Please know that patient care does not only mean the big life saving things you do that matter, but it is the small, seemingly insignificant details you perform for your patients/clients/residents that make a BIG difference. Oh yeah, and it feels good for you, too!
PS - Nurse…Thanks, a lot!
About the Author: Stephanie Staples is a highly regarded speaker at conferences, internationally, a passionate coach & advocate for ‘nursing the nurses,’ is the founder of the Life Support for Nurses Wellness Retreat. Visit for more cool tools!

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