An excellent guest blog on the importance of sensitive and trusting nursing from US-based Melanie Bowen.
Chronic illness can be very difficult to endure for patients and their families. During times of greatest need, sufferers of life-threatening diseases require all the support they can get from healthcare providers, family and friends.
Since patients will spend most of their time accompanied by a nurse in a medical facility or in-home nurse while at home, the strength of the bond that forms between the two could be the key factor in determining recovery rate and potential.
Even if recovery is impossible, good support can bring calmness, acceptance, and closure to the afflicted.
Why is emotional support so crucial to the recovery of patients?
As human beings, we are emotional beings. Our fondness for one another is based on a combination of similarity, frequency of interaction, sentimental behaviour, and emotional and intimate connections. The more ‘proof’ that a person receives from another individual to show that they care, the more attached he or she becomes to the supporter.
Humans need to have confirmation and assurance of their relationships with others to feel secure. Without actions, words mean nothing.
Nurses who show genuine desire to help and befriend patients are the ones that do their jobs the best.
How can a strong relationship between nurse and patient affect recovery?
From liver failure and brain tumours to pleural mesothelioma and malignant melanoma, a close bond between caregiver and patient can speed up recovery time and improve the chances of survival regardless of how grim the circumstances.
First, a positive and honest relationship between a nurse and patient gives the patient happiness. Knowing that somebody trustworthy is always there to look out for them can be a very comforting thought that reduces massive amounts of stress and anxiety.
Fear of death cannot be avoided, but strong physical and emotional support can brush aside many of those constant worry that add to stress and anquish.
Additionally, many chronic patients do not have any family or friends to visit them during times when they need the most love. Caring nurses can replace those missing loved ones to provide the same important emotional support that helps the afflicted fight on despite the overwhelming odds.
Second, caring nurses have intimate knowledge of their patients. This is a huge advantage when providing medical assistance that lessens the strain and pain.
Take the example of 26-year-old breast cancer patient Theresa, whose nurse, Jessica, was her caregiver and also became her best friend. Having been by Theresa’s side for many years, Jessica knew Theresa’s medical history. She gave Theresa candy before the drugs that always initiated her gag reflex, to use a longer needle on her, and to check her bowels if a physician doesn’t request an enzyme test.
By contrast, patients who have to transition frequently between nurses don’t have the beneficial personal connection. New nurses aren’t familiar with how the patient has things done, and they don’t have the personal bond to make them care for the patient like a true friend.
Lack of knowledge about and lack genuine concern for a patient are two things that could hinder recovery progress and contribute to worsening health.
Finally, a significant personal bond between nurse and patient give nurses more reason to give their all in providing for the sick. After spending so much time together, the patient is no longer just a stranger but a good friend. As a true friend, a nurse will have personal reasons along with a career obligation to provide the best care possible.