Jennifer George is a physiotherapist and was a primary caregiver for more than
10 14 years. In that time, she has encountered many situations in which good communication has resulted in better outcomes for her patients. As the primary caregiver for her father, she has been on both sides of the healthcare situation and has created Communication is Care to assist other healthcare providers in their own practice. Support is always needed in the healthcare industry, and providers may look to using such resources that George offers as well as speak to healthcare consultants so they cover all their bases.
Ms. George has come up with nine strategies:
As a healthcare provider myself with over 35 years of experience, I can vouch for many of the strategies she writes about. In particular, #7: Creating a Safe Therapeutic Environment.
In an outpatient setting, some patients may grow anxious waiting to be called into the doctors office. They may also feel like they are one of many who need care and are uncertain of how you can help and understand them out of the dozens of patients you met with today. They may feel that you do not have enough time. Upon interacting with them, you may notice they are anxious or rushed in sharing their concerns. In situations such as these, make it a point to appear calm and unrushed. Your patients will mirror your own mannerisms. If you are high strung and feel pressed, you might provoke that in your patient, who is likely already anxious about their issues. This is not the type of environment that facilitates focused healing and recovery. Yet, if you take the time to smile, sit down at your patients' level, embody a safe space for discussion, and do not look at your watch or the clock, you will create an atmosphere that is peaceful and unrestricted by outside barriers.
This advice works very well for me as an MRI technologist. My patients (particularly first-timers) are quite nervous about having an MRI, especially after hearing “horror stories” from friends and family. So I find that a calm demeanour puts them at ease and many thank me afterward for my patience with them. It makes all the difference between a good exam or one that doesn’t happen, which doesn’t benefit the patient at all.
As I read through Ms. George’s book, I was surprised to learn that she is an introvert. I thought of her as more of an extrovert, but her passion for her patients that drives her, not a need for constant stimulation.
To me, it always seemed counterintuitive - how am I able to create a strong therapuetic connection with my patients when the thought of interaction in its most basic form can make me feel uneasy? The creation of this book is a complete, shared self-reflection. I have always said that "I am an introvert with an extroverted love for humanity." I have come to find that where my introversion excels is in leading my patients to solutions to improve their function, health, and well-being.
Well said, Ms. George! I can highly recommend Communication is Care to any in the healthcare profession, whether you spend a few minutes with a patient or an hour or two. We all understand the need for good communication, but often don’t know how to effectively implement it in our daily lives. Communication is not a part of most health care curriculums – I know it wasn’t when I was in training. I learned patient skills primarily by watching the effectiveness of others as well as those times when a patient would just shut down when they weren’t being understood by a technologist. The nine strategies in Communication is Care should be a required part of any healthcare training institution.
Jennifer George is a Physiotherapist and was a primary caregiver for more than 10 years. She is transforming the face of healthcare by focusing on communication as the most important tool in patient care She is a consultant to health professionals and a mentor to students on influential communication in healthcare.
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