Why the patient-nurse relationship should be prioritized in any healthcare approach

Why the patient-nurse relationship should be prioritized in any healthcare approach

They say a merry heart doeth good like medicine. That might be true to some extent, depending on whom you ask. But there is something about a nurse’s care that can gladden the hearts of patients, accelerating their healing.

A good patient-nurse relationship can be the X factor that heightens the healing process, elevating the chances of quicker recovery. Nurses with healing hands take care of patients with meticulous clinical procedures on one hand and empathy and affection on the other.

An excellent nurse-patient relationship requires a fine balancing act, where healthcare experts build deep connections and provide holistic care, all within clear-cut professional boundaries. Patients are given full autonomy to make decisions for themselves based on subjective factors like finances and lifestyle, while the healthcare expert constantly advocates health choices from an objective point of view. Patients always get maximum support to ensure the best possible outcome regardless of what path they choose.

In this guide, we’ll examine the anatomy of a robust nurse-patient relationship. First, we’ll look into the key components of a nurse-patient relationship, and then highlight some of the key benefits of a good relationship. We’ll round off with tips on how to build effective nurse-care relationships.

The key components of nurse-patient relationships

An excellent nurse-patient relationship covers the physical, emotional and even spiritual aspects of a patient’s needs. To achieve this, an excellent dynamic is required to inspire hope and mutual trust between the nurse and patients.

The patient is inspired to believe in their recovery process, while healthcare experts use their expertise and intuition to ensure smooth communication and compliance with treatment requirements throughout the healing process.

This dynamic boils down to a few components. The most important are the quality of the relationship, compliance, communication and power.

Quality of relationship

This directly correlates with the quality of care a patient receives. A high-quality relationship is only possible when healthcare experts have the necessary resources at their disposal, from expertise to equipment and medical supplies.

A poorly equipped healthcare expert will struggle to maintain a quality relationship, and by extension, to deliver high-quality care. Also, the quality of relationship can take a toll when the healthcare experts are overstretched.

Nurses working multiple shifts need extra mental and physical stamina to maintain a level head and give every patient the right level of attention and care they need.

Compliance

Nurse-patient relationships are usually subjected to policies and boundaries designed to shape the relationship. Compliance or failure to comply with these regulations can have a huge influence on the dynamics of the nurse-patient relationship.

Compliance can also extend to verbal agreements. For instance, the patient might ask the nurse to adjust their treatment plan to accommodate some religious or lifestyle concerns.

The extent to which nurses comply with these demands can seriously influence the nurse-patient relationship.

Communication

Another key factor is the level of communication. Any difficulties in communication can seriously affect the quality of the nurse-patient relationship.

A healthcare official might fail to grasp the unique intricacies of a patient’s case, even with a proper clinical and social approach, due to a lack of good communication.

Communication issues might stem either from the healthcare workers themselves or the patients. However, the onus is almost always on the healthcare practitioner to smooth out communication and ensure the patient gets the right response to their requests

Power

Power refers to the level of autonomy a patient has to make decisions on their own regarding their treatment and recovery. A popular school of thought holds that nurses need only position themselves as “a frame of reference”, their main responsibility being to present professionally cut recommendations for the patient to choose from, rather than actively making decisions for the patient

This is one of the most consequential factors in patient-nurse relationships, as many healthcare facilities these days tend to give patients much less autonomy. Patients have much fewer choices and often struggle to get the proper attention for their lifestyle and personal needs.

On the other hand, patients also need to be cooperative, making the necessary adjustments and commitment to help healthcare experts carry out their duties more efficiently.

All in all, an excellent nurse-patient relationship creates a good balance between these factors. Patients get the level of attention they need and exercise their will, without unnecessarily obstructing the treatment process. The healthcare workers strive to maintain a high level of compliance and seamless communication, ensuring that all the requirements for an effective, convenient treatment plan are properly met.

The results? Many studies show that a well-balanced nurse-patient relationship could get a patient discharged much earlier, accelerating their healing process. Another study indicates that a good relationship can improve a patient’s recovery from mental illness, minimize falls and pressure ulcers in fragile patients, and reduce pain in patients.

However, that’s not all there is to the benefits. We have an entire section dedicated to that below.

The benefits of a good nurse-patient relationship

Several studies have highlighted the impact that the nurse-patient relationship can have on a patient’s recovery, so much so that many healthcare facilities have revised their policies to accommodate patient-centric, robust relationships between patients and nurses.

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Whether you’re a bedside nurse taking daily rounds or in the emergency department saving lives, creating a deep-seated relationship with your patients can have a huge impact on their lives and can make patients remember you for the rest of their lives.

Here are more of the proven benefits of a good nurse-patient relationship.

Making patients feel loved and cared for

You never can tell what a few minutes of small talk and smiling with patients could mean to them. It certainly wouldn’t hurt for them to know that one more person in the world cares about them.

Taking out time to build a robust relationship can make patients lay down their guard and give their full cooperation. They’ll grow to have more faith in their treatment plans as well as the institution managing their care.

As a health practitioner, going above and beyond to make your customer feel cared for can boost your success rate and track record.

Ensuring excellent aftercare

Naturally, when someone experiences medical symptoms, the first healthcare experts that come to mind are the most approachable ones.

Healthcare experts should always aim to build long-lasting relationships that extend well beyond their current medical conditions. Close follow-up not only consolidates the recovery but also helps reinforce protection against recurrence and other health problems.

When patients feel at greater ease with their healthcare expert, they’ll be more willing to comply with their follow-up appointments and become more forthcoming with symptoms or other significant developments, and this allows for timely intervention when the need arises.

Follow-up care also includes proactive advocacy and continuously educating the patient on best health practices. Healthcare experts should encourage patients to become more health conscious and make healthier lifestyle choices.

Attracting and retaining more satisfied customers

The impact of an excellent nurse-patient relationship cascades beyond the medical arena. When nurses show patients that they’re not just another case file in a drawer, patients are more likely to have faith in the facility and stick it out with them well beyond the current case.

When you continuously attract and retain a happy customer base, your facility is sure to generate more revenue, which can in turn be used to improve your quality of service and attract even more satisfied patients.

Far-reaching ramifications

Ultimately, all of this combines to elevate the life of the patient and strengthen the facility’s capacity to provide high-quality care. The benefits can reach far beyond the patient’s current medical situation, touching their lives, increasing satisfaction among the staff and impacting the community as a whole.

An excellent nurse-patient relationship can be a blessing, especially for patients with chronic or lifetime illnesses. It makes life much easier and more convenient for them. With the consistency and familiarity, they’ll likely prefer the same hands and faces to handle their case for months or even years.

How a good nurse-patient relationship is developed

To shed more light on the dynamics of a good nurse-patient relationship, let’s now look at how one is typically developed and cultivated. The primary objective of any good nurse-patient relationship is to help the patient find convenient and lasting solutions to their health problems.

The foundation of an effective nurse-patient relationship is the capacity to meet the requirements for treating and managing the health challenge, from attention and care to specialized knowledge, medical supplies, etc.

Once this is established, a cordial relationship can then be developed to facilitate their treatment process.

A good nurse-patient relationship usually undergoes these stages:

  • The orientation stage

You begin by establishing objectives, procedures and rules of engagement. This is where you agree with the patient on the basics of their treatment and care, the standards of communication and possible timelines.

This stage sets the tone for the rest of the relationship. If the patient warms up to the treatment facility here, it’ll most likely be a smoother ride down the road.

Patients need to be encouraged to open up and communicate their feelings and sentiments, both positive and negative. It’s usually a highly sensitive moment for them, and the ability to encourage seamless communication is one of the reasons why nursing is the most trusted profession. If you are interested in the field of nursing, Caron-Newman University offers flexible online programs.

Nurses also need to be resourceful at this point, finding ways to gather all the necessary information needed on the patient.

For instance, you can bring a patient their favorite comic book or novel to keep them preoccupied and show how much you care. They’ll likely believe that you do want the process to be enjoyable for them, and they’ll most likely become more forthcoming.

  • The treatment stage

To commence treatment, the patient is diagnosed and treatment options are explored. The treatment plan takes into account not only clinical considerations but also the patient’s feelings and preferences.

Excellent communication should be encouraged here as well. The patient needs to engage in honest, heartfelt conversations about how they feel and what needs to be done.

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Consistency is also crucial at this stage, and the patient needs to be at ease about the way things are being done. It’s important to give them a sense of security and continuity. They’ll be more yielding if there are fewer bumps on the road.

As a nurse, you need to be able to see things from your patient’s point of view. Your recommendations should go easy on them.

You also need to help them build their coping skills and self-confidence so that they can make decisions in a more stable state of mind. This requires a high degree of patience, interpersonal skills, keen attention to detail and empathy, among other things.

  • Post-treatment

A nurse-patient relationship can last for just a few minutes or a lifetime. Whether you’re just checking in on a random patient during ward rounds or you’re a resident nurse in a care home, you should always strive to create a lasting impact on your patients.

In many instances, the current treatment goals will be met, and the patient will return home, but the healthcare expert might still need to keep in touch with the patient.

However, it’s also important not to impose on the patient at this stage (or any other). The patient should always feel at ease about the level of interaction. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, but their privacy should always be respected.

Nurses should also keep to professional boundaries. For instance, in many cases, it’s not appropriate to hand out your personal contact details to patients or to make promises about personally keeping in touch.

Tips for building a good nurse-patient relationship

Make a good first impression

Don’t gloss over the introduction stage. Take out time to get to know the patient. Small talk could go a long way. Start first with how they feel about their condition, and then digress to other topics that might interest them. Do it with sincerity and genuineness, showing that you really care about them.

Listen closely

Patience and good listening skills are the hallmarks of the nursing profession. Listening closely to patients can make a whole lot of difference in a nurse-patient relationship. Don’t just listen to what they’re saying. Try putting things into context, understanding where they’re coming from. Also, restate what the client has said from time to time to prove you’re really listening.

Prioritize excellent communication

Communication is at the front and center of a nurse-patient relationship. Each patient has a unique personality and personal needs, which calls for a unique approach to communication. For instance, you might need to use different prompts and responses to obtain the same type of information from different patients.

There are some general language conventions you should stick to. Try using more cautiously optimistic language. For instance, instead of saying: ‘I don’t know’, you can say ‘I don’t know, but I will check around for you.’ Or instead of ‘Please calm down’, say ‘I understand this is really hard for you, and I really wish you could get some relief.’

Show respect

Patients can sometimes crack under the pressure and do or say things that they don’t really mean. You should always show respect no matter how low a patient might sink. Give them their space and respect their pain, even if it’s self-inflicted.

Stay in the present

Excellent communication doesn’t end with talking freely with the patient. Sometimes, there are nonverbal cues that cannot be spoken, and a nurse needs to be sensitive enough to pick up on those, from certain behaviors to eating habits, sleeping habits, etc.

You can also communicate with patients through body language. Maintain firm eye contact to prove that you’re listening attentively. Light physical contact like a pat on the back, and a soft handshake could also help.

Be yourself

Although it’s important to put a smile on your face and hide your negative emotions, you also need to be as sincere as possible when interacting with patients.

Keep your conversations honest and casual. Tell things as they are, but try framing them in a positive way. Also, be genuine and authentic in everything you do – patients can notice when you’re not like your natural self, like when you’re forcefully trying to wear a face.

Never underestimate the power of a good nurse-patient relationship

The importance of developing and cultivating good relationships with patients cannot be overemphasized. It could be the glue that binds everything together, ensuring a smooth healing and recovery process.

Healthcare experts need to be good at communicating with different personas and cultural backgrounds, paying rapt attention to their patients and showing total respect for their pain and privacy. All of this can fast-track the healing process, making patients more responsive to treatment and inspiring faith and trust in the healthcare facility while also creating more growth opportunities for the facility.

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