Tips to improve patient education
Preventing re-hospitalization is a huge responsibility, especially in consideration of costly penalties that are levied for early readmissions. To accomplish this, nurses need to constantly improve patient teaching and education prior to discharge. Some of the things nurses can do to advance patient education include:
- Delegate more responsibilities to support staff and be more focused on patient education.
- Begin educating patients with every encounter from admission.
- Find out what the patient already knows. Correct any misinformation.
- Feed patients information in layman’s terms. Utilize visual aids as often as possible.
- Question their understanding of the care, and plan for the next lesson.
- Use return demonstration when administering care. Involve the patient from the very first treatment.
- Ask the patient to tell you how they would explain (step-by-step) their disease or treatment to their loved one.
- Make sure the patient understands the medications as you administer them. Make sure they understand how and when to refill medications.
- Provide patients with information about signs and symptoms of their condition that will require immediate attention.
Five strategies for success
Teaching patients is an important aspect of nursing care. Whether teaching a new mom how to bathe a newborn baby or instructing an adult who is living with a chronic heart disease, a successful outcome depends on the quality of the nurse’s instruction and support. Consider these five strategies.
- Take advantage of technology. Technology has made patient education materials more accessible. Educational resources can be customized and printed out for patients with the touch of a button. Make sure the patient’s individualized needs are addressed. Don't simply hand the patient a stack of papers to read. Review them with patients to ensure they understand the instructions. Answer questions that arise. Some resources are available in several languages.
- Determine the patient’s learning style. Similar information may be provided by a range of techniques. In fact, providing education using different modalities reinforces teaching. Patients have different learning styles. Find out if your patient learns best by watching a DVD or by reading. A hands on approach where the patient gets to perform a procedure with your guidance is often the best method.
- Stimulate the patient’s interest. It's essential that patients understand why this is important. Establish rapport, ask and answer questions, and consider specific patient concerns. For example, some patients may want detailed information about every aspect of their health condition. Others may want just the facts, and do better with a simple checklist.
- Consider the patient’s limitations and strengths. Does the patient have physical, mental, or emotional impairments that impact the ability to learn? For example, they may need large print materials. If the patient is hearing impaired, use visual materials and hands on methods instead of simply providing verbal instruction. Always have patients explain what you taught them. Often people will nod “yes” or say that they comprehend what is taught even if they have not really heard or understood. Consider factors such as fatigue and the shock of learning a critical diagnosis when educating patients.
- Include family members. Involving family members in patient teaching improves the chances that your instructions will be followed. In many cases, you will be providing most of the instruction to family members. Families play a critical role in health care management.
Teaching patients and their families can be one of the most challenging, yet also rewarding elements of providing nursing care. First-rate instruction improves patient outcomes dramatically.
For further resources that will strength your organization’s patient-teaching, let Lippincott Advisor help. Our best-in-class, evidence-based decision support software for institutions includes over 16,000 customizable patient teaching handouts and content entries.