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The NSPA Blog

Emotional Support and the Heart of Advocacy

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Posted on June 18th, 2018 by Teri Dreher, under Patient Advocacy, Sandwich Generation, Senior Orphans

Emotional support often underrated by medical professionals who are busy and burdened with constant to-dos in today’s medical landscape. Still, doctors and nurses alike know how valuable it can be to take the time to really listen, and thus support, a patient in crisis. In an ideal world, emotional support would be abundant. Doctors would be better trained in empathetic communication skills, and patients would feel comfortable expressing their needs.

For this week’s blog, RN advocate Sarah Valek offers her perspective on how advocacy utilizes emotional support to truly care for patients and their families.

  1. How would you describe the value of providing emotional support to someone in a health care crisis?

Providing emotional support for those in healthcare crisis is huge. As advocates, we can remain calm and objective. Patients and families need this to decrease anxiety and stress of the situation. Emotional support is the foundation of what we do, while also offering a clear picture of each crisis.

  1. What does providing emotional support look like (in your opinion)?

Emotional support can come in many forms, but most often it’s listening. Patients and families need to vent, cry, and process what is going on. Advocates do this with our patients both in person and over the phone, if needed. It’s easier for them to lay it all out on us than members of their family. When we’re not there, we see stress piling up and pulling families apart.

  1. Can you describe a time you provided emotional support to a patient?

Yes, it happens with most patients however, family dynamics play a big part in what we do. I am often supporting the adult child who is now the caregiver. Past relationships within the family can be tricky to navigate and playing the role of mediator has made this experience easier for families. In turn, recovering patients feel more harmony and unity around them and are that much more likely to heal quickly.

  1. Do you feel like providing emotional support is valued as highly as it should be in our conception of medical care?

In today’s healthcare landscape I think it is. Time of any kind is money! Stress and anxiety can cause lost hours of work or time away from other roles caregivers have such as spouse, mother, father, etc. Our patients quickly learn the value in what we do and allow us to carry that burden for them. For caregivers, peace of mind during a stressful situation is 75% of their battle, the rest are details that can be easily coordinated, especially with the help of a clinically experienced RN advocate.

With over 36 years of clinical experience in Critical Care nursing, home based health care and expertise as a cardiovascular nurse clinician, Teri is well acquainted with the complexities of the modern healthcare system. She has served as a nursing leader, mentor, educator, and consistent patient advocate throughout her career in some of the best hospitals across the country. Her passion to keep the patient at the center of the model of nursing care led her to incorporate NShore Patient Advocates, LLC in 2011, serving clients throughout the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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