Have we lost the art of listening?
One of the most important aspects of elder care is actively listening to what the senior is saying. This seems so obvious, but so often I have found myself in situations where staff are talking over their patients. No one thinks to stop before beginning new processes and inform the senior of what will be required so they can proceed with consent and understanding. This can be because of under staffing, working a tight schedule, or poor training but taking the time to facilitate clear dialogue makes a huge difference.It is the responsibility of all of us involved to meet these challenges and make sure that care and communication is tailored to each individual need.
Recently I was visiting a wonderful friend (96) at a rehabilitation facility after she had taken a fall. At one point staff came into the room and wanted to move her from the bed to the chair. Almost no explanation was given to her as to what was going on and my friend did not have her hearing aids in, so she could not hear much anyway. The result was confusion and both parties getting slightly fractious. Once someone took the time to kneel down and get face to face with my friend and listen to her concerns and explain clearly what the aim was, the transfer was easily implemented and she was much happier.
Attentive listening and clear communication can help to avoid areas of conflict confusion and increased anxiety.
It is always helpful to make eye contact with the person you are talking to and -depending on the person and the situation -the addition of a reassuring touch can be very helpful.
On a separate occasion I witnessed the head of nursing coming to visit a patient to see how she was progressing. The patient mentioned that these daily check in visits- although just a few minutes long-meant a great deal to her.It was these visits that helped her feel secure in the new environment of a rehabilitation facility.On hearing this the nurse took the patient's hand and told her that she was very happy to hear that and it was a priority for her to make the call each day. The combination of touch and eye contact helped enormously with regard to the patient feeling seen, heard and cared for.
We have two ears and one tongue so that we would listen more and talk less." --Diogenes