Counselling at Hospitals

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Counselling at Hospitals

Those of you who have chosen to be in the health-care sector, in whatever capacity and rank, have chosen to serve human beings who need help at their most vulnerable times. It is no doubt a tough job: irregular hours, tremendous pressure, overload of work, and the burden of having human lives in your hands. Yet, you continue to work with a smile. I salute you for this dedication. While doing your work efficiently, do give a thought to the fact that a few simple efforts from your side can make the process of cure and recovery much smoother: Every person who comes to a hospital, whether as a patient or as an attendant to a patient, is uncomfortable, anxious, and disturbed. Putting the person at ease, and expressing empathy by showing care and understanding can make the person’s mind start the healing process for the body.

Every person who comes to a hospital -- whether as a patient or an attender to a patient -- is obviously uncomfortable, anxious, and disturbed. It is the job of the volunteer/counsellor to put the person at ease, and express empathy by showing care and understanding. The counsellor is a friend in need when the patient is scared of the doctors and the equipment.

Display your identity badge prominently so that people know who you are and what your name is. They feel more comfortable when they know your name. Introduce yourself by your name clearly.

COMMUNICATION: Communication plays a very important role in hospitals. Say "Good morning" or "Namaskara" when approaching a patient, with a smile. Understand that the patients (and even attenders) are generally tense and anxious, and are observing us very closely. Using the name of the patient wherever possible, and doing it in a natural friendly way, not in a patronizing tone, would be very useful. Your body language, expression, smile and your dressing style also plays a role in improving communication. Learn to maintain eye contact, and to express your concern.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: When approaching a patient, a few words of self introduction, an interest in the patient as well as his near and dear, and a warm smile, would help build better relationships. Also, in most cases where the patient is fully conscious and is an educated person, he himself would feel happy if he is given an opportunity to talk about himself, without being interrogated.

LISTENING: Listening is an extremely important skill, which you can use to speed up the healing process. Whenever time permits, a counsellor could spend a few minutes with the patient, asking about his welfare, inquiring about his pain (show concern), and then making him talk positive things, such as his plans when he has recovered. Building positive thoughts has now been proven to be a therapy that aids medical science.

Try to use the patient’s mother tongue if you know it. People are very happy when someone speaks to them in their own language. Leave the person with a message of “I am there for you”. Do not make commitments that you cannot keep, inform them of your time of availability, and inform them of when and who the other volunteers are available.

Many people may appear subdued, calm and withdrawn. It is up to us to make them open out, talk to them, and express our concern. Deep inside many patients and their relatives are looking for someone, anyone, who would give them some attention. Keep up the good work !!! -- Ali

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