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STUDENT BLOGS

Do we always communicate effectively with the patients that we care for?

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#HelloMyNameIs Krissy Scott and I am a 3rd year mental health nursing student at Stirling University.

Hello my name is logo

As we all know, excellent communication by healthcare staff is fundamental to effective, patient-centred care.

We also know that the importance of good communication in healthcare is comprehensively documented on, at a local, national and policy level.

However, as healthcare staff, do we always communicate effectively with the patients we care for? For example, do we always introduce ourselves? Kate Granger would suggest not.

“Excellent communication by healthcare staff is fundamental to effective, patient-centred care”

You may have heard of Kate. Kate is a 33 year old geriatrician from Yorkshire, who in 2011 was diagnosed with incurable cancer.

It was only when she became a patient that Kate realised that some of the most basic but important aspects of healthcare – such as communication and compassion – were being routinely forgotten by healthcare staff.

Kate started a social media campaign to remind staff about the importance of going back to basics called ‘Hello, my name is’ and here is a five minute YouTube clip about it:

 

I wanted to share Kate’s story, not just as part of Kate’s legacy, but also to remind those of us who work clinically of our individual capacity to make a significant difference in the lives of our patients.

It really can be as simple as introducing ourselves well.

“It is not our staffing grade that patients will necessarily remember”

As Brian the porter in the clip demonstrates, it is not our staffing grade that patients will necessarily remember, it is the level of communication, courtesy and compassion that we show.

On a small but personal level, I can identify with Kate’s simple desire to have healthcare staff communicate effectively. A number of years ago, I was aghast when a clinician, whom I had only just met, failed to introduce himself before delivering the news that a family member ‘clearly had autism’.

The doctor then swiftly left the room. I never did find out his name but I have never forgotten how he made me feel that day.

“I never did find out his name but I have never forgotten how he made me feel that day”

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Kate’s campaign has had such a profound impact on me, and why I am almost evangelical about it. I believe it serves as a timely reminder to us all, that as healthcare professionals, we are in a privileged position with regards to our patients, and that one way or another; we will impact upon them.

“We are in a privileged position with regards to our patients”

We should be mindful therefore to only make our impact a positive one.

Kate’s campaign has empowered me to be a more effective communicator in practice. In my last placement, I took the opportunity to share Kate’s story in a staff education session. Afterwards, a Clinical Nurse Manager who was present volunteered to inform Forth Valley’s operational division of Kate’s campaign. I have since learned that Forth Valley run a similar campaign called ‘First Impressions’.

Perhaps there is a way that you can help Kate to further her crucial ‘back to basics’ campaign?

Krissy Scott is in her third year studying mental health nursing at University of Stirling

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