How Can You Stand Out In The Crowd? It All Starts With Doughnuts!
Believe it or not, there are 65 million family caregivers in the Unites States today.
What else does that mean?
For every caregiver, there is at least one patient. Some caregivers are caring for not one, but both aging parents at the same time.
If that is the case, the number of patients suffering from chronic illnesses and/or disabilities in the U.S. alone goes up substantially.
So many patients…so many caregivers…How easy it is to get lost in that immense crowd.
A Caregiver’s dilemma: How can we possibly ensure our loved one receives special attention? Is it too much to ask? What should I do to ensure my care recipient is recognized by the medical community as not just a number, but a very important person in my life?
Some people succeed by being loud and abrasive. Others resort to threats and intimidation. If able to do so, a few flaunt their reputations, or remind those caring for their loved ones what important people they are, and whom they might know.
Are those effective tactics?
Not really. In fact, in most cases, they backfire. Often, it creates resentment and an intentional lack of attention by the offended medical authority toward the patient. No, they don’t ignore the individual. That would be unprofessional and unethical. However, the amount of “special attention” they receive may be negatively impacted by the caregiver’s efforts.
Who Is Really In Charge In Most Medical Facilities?
Is it the doctor?
Clearly, the answer is, “yes.”
What most people don’t realize, however, is the true voice of authority in most physicians’ offices and especially the hospitals is not the doctor.
Most physicians will tell you that role belongs to their nurses.
Nurses are the first point of contact. They speak with, and care for, the patients. They then confer with the doctor. The doctor takes advice from the nurse and, in many cases, is influenced by what the nurse shares during their conversations and debriefing sessions. If the nurse and doctor have an open and honest dialogue with each other, they exchange more than just medical information. Their debriefing of their patients may include non-medical topics such as their personal opinion of their patient, as well as the caregiver.
Yes, the nurse wields a mighty sword!
So if the nurses are in charge, how do we win their favor?
The answer is…
Well…doubt me if you’d like, but they worked wonders for us.
Expressing Gratitude For The Nurses Who Will Be Caring For Your Loved One
IN 2006, my wife received inpatient chemotherapy for a very deadly form of cancer, a sarcoma.
The morning after our first night in the hospital. I went to the cafeteria and purchased two dozen doughnuts. I placed them in two boxes and wrote a note on each. The notes said, “We hope you enjoy these doughnuts. Thank you for all you do. Cindy & Rob Harris, Room 516. Come visit. We would love to meet you.” I left both bags at the nurse’s station.
Surprisingly, many of the nurses on the floor dropped in to introduce themselves and thank us for the doughnuts. Each time someone did, we invited them in to meet us. In time, we asked them about themselves, but not about their jobs. We learned about their families, their friends, their likes and dislikes. We learned about their pleasures and challenges in life. Above and beyond all else, we made sure that they shared a smile and hopefully a laugh or two with us. In return, we asked for only one thing. We asked them to return and visit with us again when they had time.
Think about it. Nurses are never asked about themselves. They ask all the questions. Typically, the first one is, “How are you feeling?” What almost always follows are complaints. This occurs daily, weekly, and monthly. Nobody asks about them. Few even know their names.
Establishing a rapport and showing compassion and kindness toward the nursing staff paid huge dividends for us.
We were treated as if we were royalty whenever we were admitted to the hospital. The nurses ensured we would be given a room on their floor. We were almost always provided with the best room available when we arrived for our stay. Most caregivers had to fight for a cot. If a cot wasn’t available, the caregiver was relegated to sleeping on a lounge chair.
I always had a cot waiting for me when we checked in. When nurses brought baked goods for each other, we were included. When they ordered food from local restaurants, they typically stopped by to ask if we wanted to join them.
The key is that they did stop by, and often. Most would use their break time to visit, have a seat, and spend time with us. They would tell us about their children, their vacation plans, and anything else that was important to them at the time.
What did it do for us? Simply stated, we always had a nurse or two in our room. My wife received extra medical attention as a result. The nurses told the doctors how important we were to them, and in many cases, the doctors were more aware of my wife’s medical condition than they would have been ordinarily. When they visited, they spent extra time with us. We got to know them on a personal level, as well, which was extremely valuable from a medical standpoint.
It has been six years since we were regular residents at our hospital. Today, we are still friends with many of the nurses and doctors that treated my wife. In fact, in July of 2012, when I held a launch party for the unveiling of my book, many of those individuals were in attendance.
Who would have ever thought that two bags of doughnuts could be one of the sweetest investments a caregiver could make?
I had a hunch that it would…and it certainly did pay off for us in ways we never would have imagined!