Imagine one of your family members is in the hospital or sick. This family member is likely concerned, scared and uncertain about his/her health. Your family also has questions, but no definitive answers. Tension seems to rise over speculation. Everyone’s imagination is running wild over the diagnosis, especially after you search the internet for answers.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Maybe you’ve been in this situation yourself or witnessed it unfold before your own eyes while working as a nurse. Let’s ask ourselves, “What could I have done as a nurse to alleviate this situation?”
The answer is simple: provide competent bedside care.
To avoid this problem, a nurse should provide information that answers all parties’ questions. We do this by making ourselves available and encouraging questions.
What does competent bedside care involve?
As nurses, we provide bedside care by doing assessments, administering medications, taking vitals, bathing clients, changing linens and providing information. However, bedside care is not only caring for physical needs, as listed above, but providing emotional support to aid in the recovery process.
Taking care of physical needs is obviously important (let’s face it, those tasks are how we keep people alive), but I want to expand on emotional support because that is what is often lacking during our daily care.
How do I provide competent bedside care?
Think about our earlier scenario of the scared patient and concerned family and the unneeded anxiety that is caused by lack of knowledge about a medical diagnosis.
The first thing many patients do when they have questions is perform an internet search. After reviewing the internet, a nosebleed could seem like a severe health issue. Misinformation, stress and anxiety could be avoided by one simple step, and that is for a nurse to be available to answer questions.
When meeting with patients, don’t announce how busy you are today before you ask if there is anything you can do for them. After hearing that you’re busy, some patients may forgo the questions they may want to ask you so they don’t take up too much of your time. Instead, make time to sit down and talk with your patient. Make your patients feel like no one is more important than they are while you are in their presence.
Exercise your active listening skills and then address anything they may have concerns over in detail. By providing information, you are empowering your patient to make informed decisions and this helps them participate in their own care. This process will improve a patient’s confidence, reduce stress and help foster a trusting relationship. When you listen and make yourself available to your patients, they will know that they are receiving competent care.
Bedside care is more than just passing medications and taking vitals. It’s the process where the nurse provides emotional support and advocates for the patient. Taking time to listen, giving 100 percent of yourself, providing timely care and responding to a patient’s basic needs will not only help build rapport but it will most importantly improve the healing process.