October was Health Literacy Month – the time of year to recognize health information and the importance of making it easier to understand. As nurses, we play a vital role in health literacy and patient education. Patience training is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Without good education, patients can leave health care facilities, such as hospitals or surgical centers, confused and at risk of going astray.
Clear communication is necessary for patients to understand the discharge instructions and to avoid misunderstandings. Nurses should use simple language when providing instructions for discharges, provide step-by-step directions, and allow time for questions. The following tips can help ensure that your patients understand their discharge instructions and can follow them after they leave the hospital.
# 1 Keep patient-centered education
When it comes to educating patients, that’s just how it works. An individualized approach can give the patient the ultimate in withholding information. If the patient is a visual learner, printouts can be used. If English is not their first language, they obtain an interpreter or translator in their preferred language.
Not all patients are as knowledgeable as health care workers about medical information. Even to mention that which we think common, cannot be known to others. Patients may not feel like taking certain medications from food or not taking two pills if they miss a dose. They may not be aware of the signs or symptoms of a surgical wound infection after they go home from surgery. It is essential that patient education is not assumed with health care and that it be done as carefully as possible.
# 2 sees inappropriate and ellipsis important statements
Patients may have difficulty remembering all the information and instructions when leaving the healthcare facility. The patient may remember specific wound treatment changes, new medication times, diet changes, and other restrictions. Some people may find this amount of information overwhelming, especially after they are sick or have surgery.
Sending patients home with everything they need can help them refer to some information later when needed.
Exaggeration of important information may draw the patient’s attention when reviewing inappropriately later. Providing all the essential information at a glance while pointing out the questions on paper can help the patient retain more education.
#3 Teach-back mode
The teaching-back method is a great way to help patients retain information. After reviewing the discharge instruction segment, you can ask the patient the following question where they repeat the information to clarify for you. For example, when reviewing a patient’s new medication schedule, ask, “What time is your next pain pill when you get home?”
Being sick, tired or shocked can prevent people from understanding the education needed to keep them safe when they get home. If you ask the patients if they understand the instructions of the mission, they may only say “yes” but not really understand what they were being taught. Asking direct questions about the material to repeat what has been learned will help consolidate the information.
#4 Keep this short and allow the patient to ask questions
When going through the patient’s discharge instructions, it is best to keep it short and allow the patient time to process the information and ask questions before moving on. Select a few critical learning points and remind the patient of them, then pause for any follow-up questions before moving on to the next topic, and give the patient enough time to respond.
Effective communication with the patient can play a critical role in education. Respecting and encouraging patients by providing them with simple to understand instructions, they can be encouraged to ask questions and get clarification when needed. Initiating and monitoring the patient’s responses as they educate can give you clues as to how the information can be interpreted.
#5 No members or caregivers
Patients can be overwhelmed with new information, and vulnerable populations such as the elderly or people with disabilities may not be able to retain all the information. Family members and caregivers are a great help to patients when it comes to remembering discharge instructions. Having someone there who also listens and understands the patient’s home health information can be beneficial.
When the other party, like the family, is involved in the discharge orders, there is a better chance that the patient will follow through with the orders. Family and other caregivers can confirm important information and ensure that the patient receives the care he or she needs. The family will know the patient best and how to help them understand more difficult concepts.
# 6 Begin education before the patient goes home
Education must first begin with giving information to the patient. All training a few minutes before they leave can be overwhelming and cause the information cannot be retained. Sometimes it is easier to retain small amounts of information than to leave all the information at once.
Early education with written letters, they can spend time reading patiently than reading each resource and necessary things at home. Teaching it early and repeating it as often as needed can help you retain key concepts. Repetition of essential information over a longer period of time will also allow patients time to think about the questions.
Nurses play an essential role in patient education. October is Health Literacy Month, the perfect time to brush up on your skills and knowledge so you can be more effective when teaching patients and their families about their health. By following these tips, you can ensure that your patients have the information they need to make a smooth transition from hospital to home.