Patient Experience Week: Compelling lessons from patient helped define approach to care

If you ask wound care nurse Sheila Sud who most shaped her approach to caring for patients, it didn’t come from a professor or a mentor or a preceptor.

It came from a patient who taught her not to judge, to keep an open mind and to listen to the patient.

Meet your patient where they are at

Years ago, when she was new to home care, she was warned by other nurses that they had placed a difficult patient on her caseload. Apprehensive at first, she got to know the patient over time and discovered many of the issues stemmed from the fact he could not read or write.

“It wasn’t that he chose to be non-compliant with care. It’s that he was getting written instructions that he couldn’t decipher and he wasn’t comfortable sharing his limitations,” recalled Sud, who now works at TMC Wound Care Center. As the two built a rapport, they found creative ways to help him stay on track, such as color-coding medicines.

That home care experience, she would later find, was invaluable. “I know what goes on in homes, so it’s easier to understand what I have to look for when patients are here with us,” she said. “They sometimes have to make decisions such as whether to buy food or medication or dressing supplies. They have real struggles. And some home situations may not be as pristine as hospital situations, so you might have to teach them to keep supplies in a plastic bag or container to keep them clean.”

If you can listen for any roadblocks...they'll have better outcomes - Sheila Sud RN… Click To Tweet

That experience helped her find three important keys in building a better patient experience:

Three keys to building a better patient experience

  1. Listen to the patient.
  2. Let them know they are the center of the plan – and that they have input into that plan.
  3. Get to know the patient, their family and their situation. It helps you to formulate their care plan to suit their needs.

Sud was drawn to nursing ever since she was 10 years old in Peoria, Illinois, when her father spent four weeks in the hospital. That was in the 1960s, before more effective medications helped keep blood pressure in check. They were up front: He might not make it.

Children weren’t routinely allowed on floors then, but she was granted special permission to sit in the waiting room. She would watch the staff at the nurses’ station, and decided right then that’s what she wanted to do. Her dad would end up living another 17 years.

Sud said her experience was reinforced years later at a wound care conference when someone said patients don’t set out to be noncompliant. “If you can listen for any roadblocks and get to the root of the problem,” Sud said, “if you can get them on board and get them to participate in their care, they’ll have better outcomes.”

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Beyond the Bedside RN

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