The Patient Dignity Question meets the “Care Effect”

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“What do I need to know about you as a person to give you the best care possible?”

Tina was our longtime former housekeeper at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. She somehow knew that this question was the key to her remarkably close relationships with patients and their families at our 17-bed Victoria Hospice in-patient unit. During her 30+ year career spent cleaning patient rooms day in and day out, amid rotating nursing shifts and a blur of end-of-life care consults, Tina’s friendly face was often the one predictable constant for our patients. She chatted with them while she worked, got to know family members and other visitors by name, and remembered details about each patient’s real life (meaning, before they became patients) that made them feel unique and cared about. And it was reciprocal – everybody loved Tina!

Tina didn’t invent this question, but as a kind and naturally compassionate person, she knew intuitively that what’s known as the Patient Dignity Question was very, very important to patients and their families. Continue reading “The Patient Dignity Question meets the “Care Effect””

News flash: care improves when doctors consider the whole person

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

When I worked in hospice palliative care, I remember being gobsmacked one day while reading in a medical journal about Dr. Harvey Chochinov’s research on Dignity Therapy out of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit.(1) His studies determined that – wait for it! – patients feel better when their doctors listen to them. This of course sounds like a no-brainer until it hits you upside the head that, apparently, not all doctors know this fact to be true unless it’s published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Is it actually possible, I wondered at the time, that doctors thumbing through journals madly take notes when they discover a surprisingly shocking news flash like this?

Recently, I ran across yet another fine example of the bleedin’ obvious that makes me crazy-go-nuts, as my Ukrainian relatives would say. Continue reading “News flash: care improves when doctors consider the whole person”