How to Exhibit Empathy and Compassion with Patients During COVID
Now that “two weeks to flatten the curve” has turned into almost two years of living in a global pandemic, people are starting to feel burnout.
Moreover, with the current surge of the Omicron variant, people are scared, frustrated, and exhausted in dealing with the constantly changing environment.
How are you helping your staff and patients deal with this stress as a healthcare organization? The key is to bring more empathy and compassion to the situation – helping to build safety and peace of mind for everyone involved.
Tips to Support Staff Members
Happy, healthy staff members are critical to keeping your healthcare organization in business. Conversely, if your employees are sick or dissatisfied about health and safety in the workplace, it will take a toll on your business and patients.
Here are a few things you can do to better support staff members:
- Offer a Generous Sick Leave Policy: The last thing you want to happen is an outbreak among your staff members. So, it’s essential to encourage employees to stay home when they have symptoms or are exposed. Offer a generous sick leave policy so employees feel comfortable quarantining when necessary. Let people know that their job will be safe when they return from isolation.
- Encourage More Virtual Collaboration: Even though the social calendar has changed to minimize face-to-face interactions, it’s still important to foster positive relationships between team members. You might not be able to cater a lunch or plan an after-hours party. But you can still encourage interaction through digital platforms. For example, consider scheduling a virtual happy hour or coffee break where employees can chat and catch up with each other.
- Focus on Quality Changes, Not Quantity: Understandably, ongoing changes are necessary to accommodate ever-changing conditions. But instead of changing policies over and over again, be deliberate about focusing on quality changes. Ask for employee feedback, then implement new things with open communication to understand the reasoning behind the new way of operating.
Tips to Support Patients
When staff members feel supported, it shows when they interact with patients. Here are a few more things to keep in mind to ensure patients feel healthy and safe when they come into your healthcare office:
- Focus on Empathy and Compassion: Remember that this pandemic is challenging for everyone, which means that emotions are higher in stressful circumstances. Train your staff members to lead every conversation with empathy to ensure you set the right tone for every patient. Not only do words and tone of voice express empathy, but body language matters, too. Since smiles are hidden behind the masks, it’s necessary to be more proactive about communicating empathy in other ways.
- Let Patients Know You Are Listening: Take the time to talk to each patient and listen to their questions and concerns. Make sure that you are nodding and acknowledging throughout the conversation. Demonstrating that you are hearing them builds more trust and a stronger relationship between the patient, providers, and support staff.
- Improve Communication: Be proactive about communicating health and safety procedures with your patients. Patients should see staff members using personal protective gear and be informed on how the office is being cleaned to meet CDC recommendations. This communication can give patients peace of mind in knowing that you are doing everything possible to minimize the spread of COVID. Patients need to feel safe when visiting your office.
Take the time to be empathetic for everyone – co-workers and patients. You never know what someone is going through, and your compassion could be the start of something contagious.