Do your patients know what to expect?

One thing health care professionals need to understand: Patients don’t expect to become patients. They did not study for the role. And we, who work in health care, know the system well. We are so immersed, that we forget to others it is a foreign land and culture.

So we complain that our patients don’t understand they need to learn how to care for themselves before going home. We complain family members don’t come in for teaching, or patients don’t want to practice self-care skills.

That’s our fault. We didn’t tell them what to expect.

We didn’t tell them upon admission that they will leave in a different condition and with different needs than what they had upon arrival. We didn’t tell them they would not be in the hospital until back to normal; they will be in the hospital until they are safe to go home. And safe includes knowing how to care for themselves.

We didn’t tell them and their families that part of their job in the hospital is to learn: learn about their treatments, self-care skills to continue at home, and how to recognize problems and how to respond.

Once your patients know what to expect, it will become easier to teach them. They will understand it is a part of every hospitalization. They will be primed to listen and participate. It’s a simple conversation, but it will help you most efficiently and effectively use the teaching time you have.

©2016 Fran London, MS, RN

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