Practicing therapeutic communication is in many ways simply developing a good bedside manner. When your patient asks you a question or discusses something with you, be careful to respond in a helpful and caring manner. By encouraging the patient to speak up, you are probably helping him/her to decrease his level of stress and thereby his recovery time. Study the techniques discussed in paragraphs 1-15 and 1-16. Become familiar enough with them so that they become a natural part of your conversations.
After completing this lesson you will be able to:
• Understand good communication practice during patient interactions.
• Define and identify critical elements of therapeutic communication.
• Identify nursing interventions needed to communicate with the patient who is blind, deaf, or speaks a foreign language.
b) When your patient communicates with you, you must be able to correctly observe, evaluate, and respond. Your knowledge, understanding, and skill in human relations will enable you to do so.
CRITICAL ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE THERAPEUTIC COMMUNICATION
a) Be able to decipher the patient's message. Get to know the patient well enough to discover the underlying meaning (intent) of his/her communication. Be alert and perceptive enough to pick up the correct message. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings, especially if they are trying to be "good patients." Learn to "read between the lines."
b) Be realistic in your relationships with people; avoid making assumptions or judgments about your patients' behavior. If you have negative thoughts about something a patient says or does, try to keep in mind that he is an adult, responsible for making his own decisions. You do not want him to feel he must conceal anything from you. You want him to see that you will accept him for what he is; you will allow him his own identity.
c) Be emotionally mature enough to postpone the satisfaction of your own needs in deference to the patient's. Find sources other than the therapeutic relationship to meet your own needs.
NURSING INTERVENTION WITH PATIENTS WITH SPECIAL COMMUNICATION NEEDS
a. Blind Patients.
(1) Always speak to the patient when you enter the room so he will know who is there.
(2) Speak directly to the patient; do not turn your back.
(3) Speak to the patient in a normal tone of voice; he is blind, not deaf.
(4) Speak to the patient before touching him/her.
(5) Offer to help with arrangements for patients who may enjoy hearing tapes or reading Braille literature.
b. Deaf Patients.
(1) Look directly at the patient when speaking with him/her.
(2) Do not cover your mouth when speaking because the patient may be reading lips.
(3) If the patient does not lip-read, charts with pictures may be used, or simply writing your questions or comments on a piece of paper may be helpful.
(4) Charts with hand signs are available at the local society for deafness and/or hearing preservation.
c. Patients Speaking a Foreign Language.
(1) Obtain a translator if possible.
(2) Have a chart with basic phrases in English and the foreign language.
(3) Consider using charts with pictures.