When someone is hospitalized, their role as a “patient” rather than a customer is fraught with vulnerability. Once horizontal in that bed, even the most self-assured individuals can feel frightened, isolated, and uncertain. It’s important then, to make sure that every employee who comes in contact with the patient CAREs.
In our Nurse/Patient Partnership© course, we teach the acronym CARE to remind nurses of the essential elements of a patient encounter. In addition to GREAT communication (Greet, Recap or Relate, Explain, Ask, Tell and Thank), we teach them to CARE (Comfort, Access, Restroom and Environment). This CARE model can extend beyond nursing to anyone entering the patient’s room. In fact, many organizations institute a “no pass zone” which is essentially a policy mandating that no one pass by a room with a call light on. That can be a great way to demonstrate that everyone can assist in responding to patient needs. The problem is that many organizations stop with the policy and don’t take the time to orient non-clinical staff on exactly how to do what is asked. If you are going to institute a no pass zone policy, you also need to arm every individual with the tools to do the job.
Consider the maintenance worker who enters the patient room to fix a light. Although not a nurse, he can see by the patient’s position in bed, grimace or other non-verbal cues that the patient is uncomfortable and offer to get the nurse (comfort). He can also do a visual scan to see that the bedside table with personal items is within arm’s reach of the patient (access). He can ask if the patient needs to use the restroom and offer to alert the nurse (restroom) and finally, he can look around to see whether or not there is any debris that should be picked up (environment).
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. When you help your team members to feel confident in their role, they can contribute in a more meaningful way and send a strong message to the patients that everyone in the organization CAREs.