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Can caring communication help healing?

From a patient’s perspective, dealing with health professionals who communicate well can make a huge difference.

So much so that some people attribute the growing number of visits to alternative health practitioners to the fact they are more likely to take time to listen and talk to patients.

An encounter my father had with a hospital doctor confirmed for me the impact of caring communication.

English was my father’s third language and he also had a hearing disability so he relied on lip-reading.

Normally the doctor or nurse would begin the conversation by speaking to my father. As soon as he didn’t understand a question, the medical professional would turn to the accompanying family member for help. And then inevitably continue talking to us rather than to my father. Probably because it was faster.

Leaving the patient feeling ignored, frustrated and stressed.

But once I was visiting my father in hospital when a junior doctor – who was also not a native English speaker – came to check on him. I explained he had a hearing disability and that he lip-read.

She immediately crouched down beside his bed so that “my face is closer to make it easier” and spoke to him clearly and not too fast. He relaxed and understood much more than usual.

A couple of times she glanced at me to clarify something, but always turned back to my father and continued their conversation about his treatment.

Soon they were joking and laughing.

When she left his bedside, he was feeling better already.

Her caring communication had reduced my father’s stress and relieved his worries.

And he recovered faster.

That’s the difference a doctor communicating with empathy can make.

Want to communicate more smoothly in English with your patients?

Email me what’s causing you problems so I can help.

© Christina Wielgolawski