How Can Nurses Provide Emotional Support for Patients?
Hospital stays are almost always accompanied by stress and worry. Fearing the unfamiliar is a common feeling among both patients and their families, but one of the many elements of nursing includes mitigating that fear.
Nurses are the healthcare professionals who spend the most time with patients and their families during their hospital stay. Doctors may cure, but nurses are responsible for providing care. Besides providing medical attention, they also provide important emotional support.
Nurses are fitness coaches and cheerleaders, grief counselors and hand-holders. Their tasks include helping their patients through emotional challenges and creating a comforting bedside manner. They are with their patients from the first day to the very last, day and night.
How Do Nurses Meet Emotional Needs of Patients?
Nurses keep track of their patients’ health, provide medicine to them, take care of paperwork, help doctors diagnose patients, and provide advice, but their job doesn’t stop here. As Study explains, they wear many hats throughout the working day, and meeting the emotional needs of their patients is one of them.
They care for their patients emotionally by empathizing with suffering patients, calming scared patients, and giving hope to all of them. Emotional care involves being compassionate and accepting and treating patients as unique individuals.
According to ECPI University, the supportive emotional measures they provide to patients include:
Dealing with the Illness
A patient can be hospitalized for various reasons such as a serious illness, a nasty accident, or post-surgery recuperation. No matter the reason, they feel more than just physical symptoms.
They usually have all these negative emotions including fear, uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety, so it’s crucial that nurses make them feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, Live Well Magazine reports.
Nurses should help them deal with their symptoms by providing emotional support to them. By meeting their patients’ physiological and emotional needs, they also improve the healing process and help patients feel safe and more empowered with managing their own recovery.
Preparing for Treatment
During their hospital stay, patients prepare for treatment by taking certain medications, following a strict diet, and other sets of preparations as instructed by the nurse.
Nurses are the ones who are supposed to explain to patients how to prepare themselves for treatment and ensure they do that during their hospital stay.
They should be able to answer patients’ questions regarding the preparation process, such as the purpose of the medicine they take and the possible side effects.
Adjusting to Hospital Life
It’s normal that patients take some time to get used to the hospital life since it’s different from their life at home. This can be quite disturbing for some patients, but nurses should be here to help them acclimatize to the new environment.
Everything can add up to the discomfort of the patient, from the hospital food and gown to the noises and smell of the hospital. That’s why it’s critical that patients are welcomed by the nurses and given the details of their stay.
By creating a comfortable place for patients, nurses help them adjust to hospital life more quickly. As Patient Engagement Hit explains, this affects the overall patient experience, satisfaction, and psychological and emotional state.
Handling the Mental Effects
A patient’s mental health can be put under a lot of strain by the new hospital environment, their condition, medication, and side effects. All of this can affect them emotionally and mentally, and the longer they stay, the stronger the mental effects.
In a world of health check-ups, medicines, surgeries, and injections, nurses should provide a sense of relief, calmness, and normalcy for their patients.
Nurses are the healthcare providers that visit patients most often, so it’s normal that patients would look to them for comfort and aid. Their job includes monitoring patients’ mental health and helping them to handle any mental challenge.
They should be able to handle patients’ sudden emotional outbursts in a cool and calm way, but if these become worrisome, they should report them to the doctor.
Keeping Patients Company
Nurses are the ones who spend the most time with patients, so they are expected to provide not only medical aid but social interaction as well. They should keep an eye on their physical and mental health and be able to assess their needs and ability for communication and determine when to put them to rest.
With bright conversation, small talk, or good humor, nurses can help distract their patients from their worrying thoughts about their condition. As Health Conscious puts it, a positive attitude can help patients with acute and chronic pain heal their mind and body.
Patients should relate to their nurse and the nurse should relate to their patients. That’s why nurses should share experience and knowledge linked to their patients’ experience in order to get to know them better while showing enthusiasm and empathy and avoiding making discriminatory and judgmental statements, Today explains.
All of this can help patients stay positive and respond better to treatment.
Bonding With Family Members
Family members and friends are another support group of patients who visit them regularly in order to find out more about their condition, treatment, and recovery.
Nurses are the ones who provide this information, so it’s important to develop a good relationship with these people as they can all work together to help the patient recover better and quicker.
Communication with their patients and their family members to collaborate on diagnosis and treatment may result in getting the necessary information about the patient’s condition which will contribute to better ailment management and prevention of future reoccurrence, Sacred Heart University reports.
Preparing to Leave the Hospital
When the treatment is over, the patient leaves the hospital. However, returning to normal life at home can be challenging for some patients, especially if they have stayed in the hospital for a long time.
They should be informed about the precautions they need to take once they leave the hospital, the exercises they should do, the medicines they should take, and the activities they should avoid.
Nurses can help them prepare to get back to home and live a regular life once again. Their mutual relationship can help patients stay in contact with the hospital through future check-ups until they are ready to adjust to their day-to-day life.
What Are The Psychological Needs of Patients?
Patients need to feel understood and recognized, so nurses should create a supportive relationship with them by listening to them and using language that is meaningful to them.
They need to feel safe by knowing what is happening. This will prevent them from feeling as if they have lost their self-control, a study published in Pubmed reports.
Also, they need to feel confident. They should have the necessary information and instructions on how to take action in their care without being overwhelmed.
When patients take ownership of their health, they take action in their care because they want to, and not because they have to, explains Linked In.
How Do Nurses Give Psychological Support to Patients?
Providing psychological support to patients comes down to good verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
This includes general interactional skills to convey support and empathy and to provide meaningful and easy-to-understand medical information, the registered nurse Melanie Jane Legg explains.
A good relationship of nurses with patients should be based on understanding, trust, respect, setting mutual goals, being present, open, and honest, and providing social support.
Nurses should help create an environment where patients can feel safe and comfortable to relate and communicate.
How Can Caregivers Help in the Psychological Needs of Patients?
They provide reliable and constant companionship, giving patients someone to talk to about their feelings. They provide the necessary emotional support by being a stable companion.
By building dialogue with them, they can understand how patients see themselves as individuals, what their values are, and how their relationship with others may influence their decisions and ability to live with those decisions at the time of their treatment and afterward.
Caregivers promote the interests of patients in all situations, including keeping up-to-date on current information and resources about their condition.
How Do Nurses Deal with Emotions?
Nurses can feel all kinds of emotions in just one shift, Ausmed explains. From anxiety and frustration to compassion, joy, and relief at the end of their shift, nursing is emotionally draining. But, how do they deal with all these emotions?
The first thing they do is identify and accept their emotions as part of their job. Some of them maintain a humorous outlook to cope with a stressful environment such as complex patients or family members.
Adopting a positive attitude and perceiving suffering, pain, and death as part of a natural process are some of the coping mechanisms they use to deal with their emotions.
Others focus on their patients and listen to them carefully to help them identify and acknowledge their own feelings.
In many cases, nurses reach out to an experienced colleague for guidance and help.
Anxiety in Patients
Anxiety is considered a normal response to physical disease or illness, a study published in BMJ reports. It doesn’t affect all patients, and in most cases, it lasts for a short time.
It’s a natural response to a threat of disease, but it can become maladaptive and prolonged in some situations, in which case it needs to be properly addressed.
According to Springer Link, hospital anxiety is the unusual preoccupation or the anxious response to noxious consequences which can be triggered by undergoing medical procedures in a hospital or visiting hospitals.
How Can Nurses Help a Distressed or Anxious Patient?
The first and most important thing nurses can do to help a distresses or anxious patient is to listen to them and their concerns. They should ask their patients how they feel and whether there’s anything they can do to help them feel more comfortable.
The next thing nurses can do is to inform their patients about everything they do and why they are doing it so they can know what to expect with any upcoming procedures.
They should help them relax by asking them what they need to relax. This can be as simple as providing them a warm blanket, a cup of tea, dimming the lights, or showing them some relaxation techniques such as breathing.
Nurses should show interest in patients’ lives and make efforts to cheer them up by talking about their patients’ family, job, or partner. This will reduce their stress significantly.
How Can Resiliency Help Nurses Provide Emotional Support to Patients?
Resilience helps nurses handle their work environment and keep stable and healthy psychological functioning, a study published in Science Direct explains. This, in turn, increases their ability to perform under pressure and helps them provide the necessary emotional support to their patients.
How Do Nurses Protect Patient Confidentiality?
Nurses are legally obliged to protect their patients’ confidential information. According to Minority Nurse, some of the things they should take seriously to prevent possible violations include:
- Understanding what protected health information is, how it can be shared, when it can be shared, and with whom it can be shared
- Understanding and being compliant with HIPAA rules and regulations
- Keeping anything that has information about patients out of the public’s eye
- Consulting with their HR office for any suspicious activity in regards to their patient confidentiality