Who? What? Where? When? How? Yup, today, March 14th, is the official day for asking questions; all sorts of questions. And remember, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. ( I know you may be thinking otherwise, but in honor of the day, let’s roll with the ‘no such thing as a stupid question’ thing!) In fact, asking is the best way to learn and grow. Questions, though, are not just about satisfying your own inner desire to be in the know, it can also be a means for helping others, particularly if you’re in the business of wearing medical scrubs. Yes, all you nurses know just how important question asking is when it comes to dealing with patients. Believe it or not, sometimes it’s the questions that offer the best sort of medicine, not the answers. So what sort of questions should you be asking? The four P’s!
Personal Hygiene Needs:
One of the worst aspects of being confined to a hospital bed is the diminishing lack of a sense of self. And a major cause for this, is the neglect of personal hygiene. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t happen because the patient doesn’t care; it happens because the staff doesn’t care to help him/her fulfill those needs. So what does this mean for you? (Wow, I’m really getting into the spirit here!) Ask the patient: Do you need to use the restroom? Would you like to take a shower (if he/she is capable of showering)? Basically, make sure your patient doesn’t have to live without whatever personal hygiene you find sacred in your own life.
Ever woke up with a stiff neck? Or had your foot fall asleep because it was stuck in the same position for waaaay too long. Not too comfortable, huh? Well guess what? A bedridden patient feels this way almost all the time. Which is why it is so important to ask your patient if he/she wants his bed adjusted, his pillows fluffed, or maybe even ask if they want to sit in a real chair at the window for a little while. The monotony of being stuck in a single position is mind-numbingly exhausting. But remember, you’ve got to ask, because there’s a good chance the patient won’t!
Asking about pain is pretty standard. But you can make a difference by saying it with meaning and showing that you really, truly care. Another simple way to address your patient’s pain is by asking, “What is one thing that will make your day easier and make the pain just a tad more manageable?” You’d be surprised by what your patients will say. They might just want an extra blanket, or even some juice. Little things can make all the difference!
You know how important personal items are. You even love all those pockets in your Everyday Scrubs by Dickies 82156 drawstring pants, because they’re a great place to store those personal accessories. For a patient, any reminder of normal, home life is a major welcome in the sterile hospital environment, which is why it’s so important to take note of the personal items the patient brings in. Ask your patient if all his/her personal items, such as a cell phone, picture frame etc. are in the right place. You wouldn’t want your patient reaching out to get something that is in fact out of reach and then subsequently falling. Besides, by asking about personal items it gives the patient the sense that you see them as a person outside of the hospital’s four walls.
Bottom line is, you’ve got to ask, ask, ask! You can make all the difference in the life of someone else, just by asking a few simple questions!