Mindfulness: Game-Changer for the Patient Experience
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It’s No Fad! Mindfulness is a Game-Changer for the Patient and Staff Experience

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A nurse manager shared this illuminating story:

“A patient complained that no one had been in all night to check on her.  I wanted to find out if that was true and investigated.  I learned that the patient’s nurse had in fact gone into the patient’s room four times, doing things for or to the patient each time.  Four times!  The nurse had been there physically and felt caring, yet the person who was the patient didn’t feel she received any quality contact or caring from the nurse.”

Sadly, this is a typical patient’s experience.  We all know that folks who work in healthcare are caring! Yet, in today’s pressured work environment of endless multi-tasking and multiple priorities, our caring may not come across effectively to patients and families.  And, we’re in danger of losing connection with our caring mission because of the stress of endless to-do lists and intense workloads.  This is anxiety-provoking for patients, draining for staff and fodder for patient complaints and dissatisfaction.

Clearly, spending MORE time with patients isn’t the answer.  The fact is, unless barriers are removed and staffing and processes improved, there is no more time to spend with patients.

So what CAN we do?  We can make certain that our caring is felt by patients and families during the precious time we do spend with them.  It’s a matter of quality, not quantity.

If I could advance only ONE communication skill to create breakthroughs in the patient and staff experience, it would be mindfulness.  (In the Language of Caring®, we call it “presence.”)  This highly learnable skill involves controlling your attention so the person on the receiving end feels like the center of your universe during the precious moments you have with them.  And it will never go out of style!

The Payoffs of Practicing Presence
You really connect so your caring comes across loud and clear and your work becomes more meaningful.  Patients and families feel supported, less anxious and they actually heal faster.  Also, when you are fully present, you don’t miss valuable cues about the person’s thoughts and feelings — cues that help you engage them effectively and ensure their safety.

Presence doesn’t take more of your time.  It makes every moment of connection with the patient precious and impactful.

Tips for Practicing Presence

NOT Being Present: The Signs

Do your own experiment: Help your team enhance their communication of caring through the practice of presence.  Ask them to experiment with a small number of patients and family members.  Then set a date to discuss the results.

The Impact Is Amazing: Staff Speak About the Power of Presence

Please share your insights about the impact of Presence on the patient and staff experience below. And, if you do the team experiment I suggested, I’d love to hear about your results!

Categories: Caring and Empathy, Change and Transformation, Employee Engagement, Patient-Family Engagement, Physicians

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