Empathic care

I have included this because we believe it to be important and providing empathic care will result in better health outcomes for our patients.

Good, empathic care

Introducing yourself and those with you by name and role

Taking the time to explain options, checking understanding and involving patient in the process.

Acknowledging the patient’s values and beliefs and recognising their importance in the overall health care picture

Being polite, smiling and direct eye contact.

Apologising if they have waited to see you (even if it wasn’t your fault)

Giving the patient in front of you your full attention. Making them feel important and establishing rapport. Demonstrating a sincere desire to help and provide support

Human contact – make it personal. Ask questions and show them that they are more than the next chart to be reviewed or problem on your list. Actively listen to their responses.

Being aware of what has been happening to the patient up until now – it might be the start of your shift, but has she been up all night? What is her situation? How is she doing right now emotionally?

Keeping patients updated on what is happening with their care. And asking someone if you’re not sure.

Confirming that the priorities for your care are also the patient’s priorities.  Asking the patient ‘What do you need or want to have happen today?’

Poor care

Rudeness, being snappy, abrupt or dismissive

Complaining about your problems: how busy your day is, how short-staffed we are and other issues that are not their concern.

Off-hand comments that show lack of empathy for what the patient is going through.

Criticism of colleagues to patients. If we have issues with each other, then we need to discuss them outside of the room and be united in the care we provide.

Uninformed statements about why they can or can’t have a particular intervention or care pathway. This can lead to conflicting messages.

Discussing the patient with colleagues and within ear shot, but without involving them.