Aug 1, 2019 | Patient Stories, Faces of HDGH
This month’s blog comes from a very talented HDGH Physiotherapist and also, PUBLISHED AUTHOR. Jennifer George has been working on our inpatient rehab team at HDGH for over five years. She has spent the last 11 years of her career studying and reflecting on the importance of communication in our health and educational systems which is so important in all of our worlds.
Her latest book release, Communication is Care: 9 Empowering Ways to Guide Patient Healing is available through Amazon, Indigo (Windsor or online) and all e-book platforms globally – ie. Barnes and Noble (so cool!).
She is a mentor to future and current health providers on discovering their purpose, achieving fulfillment, and creating the best patient experience. We are so lucky to have Jennifer as part of our HDGH Family and our patients are equally as fortunate to have her as part of their rehab journey.
Those readers interested in getting in touch with Jennifer to discover more opportunities to connect, collaborate and revolutionize healthcare delivery can subscribe to www.jennifergeorge.co.
Thanks Jennifer for not only your contribution to August’s blog but also to the impact and lives you change each day through your work and words.
At one point or another, the majority of us will be patients of the healthcare system. Our fundamental need of good health and independence connects each and every one of us and grounds us in gratitude every day. If you think about every single experience you have ever had in your lifetime, it was rooted in your health in some way and has led you to where you are in this moment.
When I was asked to write this piece on “patient-centeredness,” I thought it would be simple to share my perspective with you. However, when I sat down to write my thoughts on what this means to me as a human being and as a healthcare provider, I suddenly felt overcome with information and emotion. I found myself reflecting on how I treat my patients everyday and how I would want to be treated if I were a patient.
Our healthcare system is starting to give a voice to the value of empathetic and compassionate care. As a result, it is revolutionizing patient-centeredness into human-centered care. I say this because at the core of it all, we are one – I am my patients and my patients are me. How many times have you thought to yourself as a healthcare provider, “My patient is the same age as me…my patient could be me…I will be this or that kind of patient one day…I would do or feel the same way if I were in my patient’s shoes…”.
In order to provide excellent care as a healthcare provider, you inevitably find connection to your patients in their full human form, not by their diagnosis or identification numbers. It is in this human connection that your patients are ultimately able to understand you and feel understood by you when they are in your care.
Human-centeredness is what unites us and is mutually reciprocated between you and your patients. It is the “flow of focus” on that one purpose that will give meaning to your patients’ involvement in their own outcomes and to your work in helping them get there.
This is witnessed in ongoing collaboration among the inter-professional team, consisting of shared empathy, being mindfully present, and empowering your patients to be their own advocates of care.
Most recently, I was met with a new patient who although consented to assessment, I found it difficult to connect with and establish rapport despite how many questions I asked. Upon leaving his room, I felt uncertain about my ability to understand him, and then it suddenly hit me: I circled back around and asked him what his experience had been like leading up to this admission.
Immediately, his spouse expressed that the only plan they were aware of was that he was going to go home from acute care with home care services. Yet, they were here at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare. They were informed just hours before that the plan was to send him to our hospital. I felt they were still wrapping their heads around the past few hours of his sudden transition.
Now, it made sense to me as to why I felt there was a disconnect between us both. I then responded by asking if the original plan is what he still wanted. My patient did not say yes or no. He was overall very indifferent.
Although challenging, this critical conversation is what moved our alliance into the right direction - my patient had no interest in any tangible goals like how I could help to restore his strength and gait in that moment, he was just consenting to the assessment because everything up until this point was felt to be done unto him. This made him feel untrusting and unheard.
I reassured him that if he still wanted to stick to the original plan that we would do everything we could to support it safely. Most importantly, I reassured him that he will be fully informed and strongly encouraged to be a part of his care plan and goals. The plan will not happen to him, but with him guiding us, his care team.
He notably sighed and smiled in relief. I truly believe that had we not had this open conversation, I would not have been able to provide effective care due to my lack of complete understanding and his inability to be present in each therapeutic session.
Our alliance - now enhanced by intangible understanding and genuine concern for one another, would mark the beginning of the human-centered experience. An experience in which both the patient and the provider feel a shared sense of belonging, harmony, and peace.
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