Many people are worried about how COVID-19 will impact their lives and their health. It is an anxious time for us all.
However, by providing your patients with accurate information and support, they will be better prepared to take care of themselves during this pandemic.
Following are simple steps to guide your conversations with patients about COVID-19:
Prepare to talk.
Think about your own feelings, thoughts, and fears about COVID-19. They are real for you. However, patients may have different fears, so make sure to keep an open mind and heart.
Before talking to your patient, review their chart for the following to inform the discussion:
These details will help you anticipate what challenges your patient may face as a result of COVID-19. To glean more information, use open-ended questions such as:
Begin with broad questions such as:
Use reflective listening and demonstrate empathy:
Don’t interrupt. Allow the patient to tell their story and express their feelings.
Notice the patient’s body language (if you can see them) and what it is telling you. Signs of discomfort or not feeling safe may include:
Use phrases such as:
Respond honestly to questions and concerns.
Correct inaccurate information and myths while acknowledging real uncertainties:
Pay attention to your tone. If you are feeling frustrated and tired, it may come across to the patient.
Make eye contact if the patient is comfortable with it.
Minimize distractions. If they arise, make it clear that you are planning to follow up on the topic(s) at hand:
Give information about COVID-19 that pertains to the patient’s life.
Focus on what the patient can do, not what they can’t.
Always use plain language. Avoid medical/scientific language. See more resources here.
Review action steps clearly and concisely.
Ask the patient to describe in their own words what was discussed and what they are going to do, if anything.
Tell them how they can reach you if needed.
Tell them when they need to follow up.
Leave the door open by saying something such as, “I am always here for you. This is how you can reach me…”
PCDC’s COVID-19 Resources
Through advocacy, investment, and quality transformation, PCDC is committed to helping create the system we need. Learn more about PCDC’s financing options, training and technical assistance services, tips for implementing telehealth, and more.