Although researchers and scientists are becoming more familiar with COVID-19, there are many questions left unanswered. Regardless of the uncertainty, patients and their loved ones are looking for answers. During this time, it is important that healthcare workers communicate with their patients effectively. Healthcare workers would greatly benefit from mastering these top communication skills.
Become Familiar with FAQs
Patients and their loved ones have a lot of questions about COVID-19 because the disease is so unfamiliar. It would be helpful to become familiar with the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
VitalTalk, a non-profit organization, focuses on helping healthcare professionals communicate “…about serious illnesses empathetically and effectively, enabling them to feel less burned out in the process.” VitalTalk has to put together a document titled “COVID Ready Communication Playbook.” This document will help healthcare workers improve their communication skills because it includes common questions or statements patients may ask and how best to respond to them.
Use Credible Resources
When communicating with patients, it is best practice to use information from credible resources. It is also helpful to inform your patients where you are obtaining your information from and how they can learn about COVID-19, as well. Below all three credible resources that healthcare workers should follow:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC’s mission is to “…protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S.”
You can review updated information on their website and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The NIH’s mission is to “…seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.”
You can review updated information on COVID-19 on their website and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The FDA’s mission is to protect “… the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.”
You can review updated information on COVID-19 on their website and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Showing empathy is a great communication skill that helps people feel validated and can improve trust. Despite the stress surrounding COVID-19, healthcare workers can still demonstrate empathy with their patients. These tips can make all the difference:
Actively Listen to Your Patient
Active listening is an art that requires practice. In order to actively listen to someone you need to be able to listen to what they are saying completely before thinking of what you’re going to respond with. It is also helpful to use reflective statements when talking to a patient. A reflective statement is when you repeat what someone just told you to make sure that you captured all the information.
Use appropriate body language
Due to safety precautions and wearing personal protective equipment, healthcare workers are limited with how they interact with patients. However, appropriate body language is still important. Facing the patient with your entire body, maintaining eye contact, and giving a thumbs-up gesture can make the patient feel seen. Also, checkout this doctor who taped a picture of themselves to their hazmat suit. This simple solution will allow patients to see their healthcare workers smile which is hidden under protective gear.
Share Your Feelings and Thoughts
It is clear that COVID-19 has made history with how it has impacted people’s daily lives. Sharing your thoughts with a patient can help them feel as if they are not alone. The key to sharing effectively is to share information that is relatable and is followed by an action. This could look like a healthcare worker agreeing that this pandemic is scary, but then explains what steps they are going to take to make the situation less fearful.
Can you think of any other communication skills that are critical for healthcare workers during COVID-19? If so, comment below!
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