5 Tips for Winning Over a Difficult Patient

As a caregiver, home health aid or nurse, you KNOW some patients are easier to work with than others. So, when personalities clash, what can you do? Try using these 5 tips for winning over a difficult patient.

1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

When a patient is uncooperative, it’s easy to feel frustrated. But rather than letting your temper get the better of you, step back and examine life from your patient’s perspective. Maybe they are in pain? Maybe they hate feeling dependent? Or maybe they’re afraid of doctors and nurses? When you recognize the source of their emotions, you’ll be better able to relate to them and address their concerns. In other words, a little empathy goes a long way.

2. Be a Great Listener

Ultimately, people want to be heard. Therefore, even in the rush of daily tasks, take the time to listen, truly listen, to your patients. You’ll probably be surprised at what you discover. If you’re not sure how to improve your listening skills, give this strategy a try. Ask a question and remain silent until your patient has answered completely. Then, repeat back what you heard. Not only will you be more attentive, but also your patient will have the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings.

3. Find a Common Interest

Talking about an everyday topic of mutual interest can allow you to form a connection with an otherwise difficult patient. Consider things like sports, hobbies, movies, TV shows, music, celebrity gossip, technology, current events or people you both know. Kicking off your interactions with a friendly conversation about last night’s game or your latest knitting project puts everyone in a more agreeable mood.

4. Request Their Help

This may sound counterintuitive. After all, you are supposed to be there for the patient. However, research shows if you ask someone for a favor and they follow through, they’ll tell themselves they helped you BECAUSE they like you. Thus, convincing a difficult patient to lend you a hand has the power to improve your overall relationship. Of course, you’ll need to be creative. You could have them assist with their own care. This may be something as simple as recording daily numbers on a chart. Or you could request advice on a not-too-personal aspect of your own life. For example, if your patient worked at a car dealership and you are in the process of buying a car, you may find their insights useful.

5. Set Boundaries

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your patient will have bad days or continue to be difficult. In these situations, you’ll need to set ground rules. Remember, you shouldn’t tolerate abusive or inappropriate behavior, and your patient should be aware of this too. Talk to your supervisor about practical solutions and/or review your employee handbook to familiarize yourself with company policies.


Do You Have a Talent for Winning Over Difficult Patients?

If you’re an empathic caregiver, home health aid or nurse, Anodyne is looking for you. Anodyne Staffing places top health care professionals throughout Eastern Massachusetts. Learn more about the advantages of working with Anodyne today!