I’ve been a people pleaser for a long time now. I’m not entirely sure when it all started. I distinctly remember being an annoying, pain in butt kid and teenager.
Whenever it began, it is a large part of the adult me. In my yearbook I was noted at “best known” for my “perkiness”. Without analyzing why I feel the need to make people happy ( I will do that in a later post) I have to admit that I really, really enjoy it.
I currently work in home care. My patients range from basically healthy in need of companionship to end of life hospice. I feel responsible for the happiness of my patients and their families. I accept this responsibility with…
…happiness (of course).
- Call ahead- I always give a one hour window for my visit. I always call if I’m running early or late. I also ask if there is anything they need while I’m “out”. The patient often asks me to stop and pick something up for them. I’m happy to help.
- Arrive on time-See above.I am very careful about predicting the time of my arrival. Even if they patient is a little old lady who sits in her chair all day, she appreciates knowing what time to expect me.
- Listen-For real. I can’t just pretend to listen. When they talk about their hobbies or their kids or whatever, I listen. The next time I speak to them I will reference our previous conversation. They love that. They know I was really listening.
- Smile-A genuine smile can be hard if I’m not really happy. That’s ok. I’m practically always happy.
- Laugh-When I laugh with my patient, or make them laugh, its like a gold star that I earned.
- Ask good questions-It is so important to ask the right questions. I have learned to stop asking “How are you?” because I have received the response “How do you think I am?” one too many times. now I ask, “What’s new?”. To gather accurate information about the patients health and state of mind I have to ask smart questions. “Are you having any pain?” is just not enough. I also ask about discomfort and weakness. Then I ALSO ask about specific types of pain; back, knee, joint, etc. I know that a lot of patients don’t want to “complain” but I beg them to be honest with me.
- Give good answers-The answers are as important as the questions. The most important is when I don’t have the answer. If I really don’t have an immediate solution I promise to follow up, and then I do.
- Follow up-See above. Follow up is annoying for me, but I know how important it is for my patients. They are so happy when I get results and report back to them. Almost like they’re surprised that I actually did what I said I would do.
- Anticipate outcomes-This is where we use our crystal ball that is really our clinical experience, to predict the future. That is what I have to do every day, every minute.
- Remember the childrens’ names
- Remember the grandchildrens’ names
- Remember the pets’ names-I write them down in the patient’s paperwork. Yes, it is that important.
- Notice what is hanging on the walls-So much of what I want to know is hanging on my the walls. Are they a veteran? Are they married? Do they have children? Are the paintings on the wall all painted by the same artist? This is something that I actually look for. If so, I ask about the artist, which is usually the patient themself, or a family member.
- Do the laundry-How difficult is it to throw in a load of laundry? Even offering is a truly appreciated gesture.
- Wash the dishes-See above.
- Ask about hobbies and interests-My patients tell me about the most interesting hobbies; breeding horses (see previous post), keeping bees (stay tuned for this post), needlepoint, painting, gardening…
- Take good notes-I take notes about everything. Sometimes the minute details are necessary to reference later. A seemingly unimportant statement or issue can become significant later.
- Bring gloves-You can never have too many boxes of gloves. This makes the patient and the caregiver very happy.
- Respect them-I am an invited guest in the patients home. I offer to take off my shoes, I ask permission before I sit. My patient is the boss. They deserve respect.
- Don’t argue-There is no situation I can think of where this would be appropriate or acceptable. Just don’t do it.
Lessons I’ve Learned:
- Its the details that count.
- Never underestimate your ability to change someone’s day.
- Be present-whatever is going on in your life doesn’t matter when you’re with a patient.