Smiling and being cheerful is seen by some patients as an indicator of good nursing, research has confirmed.
Last year former health secretary Alan Johnson trailed the idea that nurses should be measured on the compassion they showed patients, which was portrayed in the national media as how “smiley” nurses were.
Now it seems overseas research has backed the idea, despite experts highlighting that nursing indicators should be more focused on a nurse’s technical ability.
Patient perceptions of a nurse’s skill are largely based on their interpersonal skills and caring practices, rather than their technical skills, according to a small US study, published in the journal Critical Care Nurse.
Nurse researchers interviewed 32 patients, aged 30 to 96, being treated in a progressive care unit in a US hospital.
The authors said: “It is not always the successful performance of a procedure thatgives patients the impression a nurse is skilled, but oftenthe caring practices that a nurse shows while performing thetechnical task.”
“Patients described nurses who were friendly, caring, compassionate, kind, and good listeners as nurses who were very skilled. ‘A good bedside manner’ was how one patient described the skills and qualities of his ideal nurse, adding ‘interested in me also as a person’.
The authors added: “Cheerful and happy and smiling were qualities several patients said gave them the impression that a nurse was skilled. ‘A friendly nurse seems like they know everything’ were the words one patient used to describe the skill of the nurses who were the best at providing care.”