I recently attended a course, it was half a day long and was all about recognising and diffusing situations before conflict occurs.
This was the best training I have attended since graduating as a Band 5 physiotherapist. It was a mixture of teaching and workshops, we did role play of certain situations and it really highlighted areas of my communication I should improve in.
I learnt a lot about communicating with parents and patients and what type of thing to avoid. Sometimes you can make a situation much worse, by offering what you see as a useful comment, which just drives a person mad! This course did a great job of highlighting some things health professionals do and say within paediatrics that don't help!
By highlighting these issues and suggesting ways to improve I really feel I have become a better communicator and have helped patients and parents feel happy and understood when difficult situations come up.
Here are my key learning points:
-In paediatrics communication is mainly with the parents, but throughout all discussions it is important that the patient has a voice and there needs always need to be considered outside of the parents’ wishes.
-Respond to cue (emotive) words, for example if someone says "I'm really angry we can't have the operation" you respond to the word angry. You engage with the patient and understand what is making them angry. You can only begin to improve a situation once you fully understand the issue! Sometimes people just want to rant and feel understood, let them don’t interrupt.
-Don't ask people why they are upset it can be quite accusatory, ask them what is making them feel that emotion.
-Don't just offer premature assurance, using the example above saying to the patient/parent "oh it's okay you will probably get it on Monday" is not helpful and will make the situation worse, listening and understanding the situation and then possible discussing reasonable ways forward is a much better option.
-Listen to them and pick up on their emotions, use these to be empathetic towards them, and let them know they are valued by your team.
-Be prepared, there is nothing worse than trying to solve a situation or listen to someone about their problems when you come blind into a situation. Make sure you know the background and know what you want to do and who you want to help. It also saves you asking the same questions every single person has asked before you.
- Similar to the NHS 5 year forward view, prevention is better than cure, so be constantly on the lookout for ways to prevent conflict occurring and if you see a potential issue address it before it escalates!
I would like to thank the medical mediation foundation for running this course, they are doing a lot of great work and have changed my practice.
As a side note, my mother is having a stressful time at work at the moment and always comes home and talks about it, I started asking her about her emotive words, not offering pre-mature assurance and at the end she remarked how great I was to talk to and how she felt much better than she normally does after talking to me! (Hopefully she won’t read this and find out)