Founder of largest network connecting patients and caregivers offers tips
to families, friends, caregivers and hospitals on how to be more
compassionate and helpful
CHICAGO, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- What do you say, what can you do when someone you love is bedridden in a hospital or suffering from a serious disease? To kick-off National Patient Recognition Week, a week-long observance beginning today to demonstrate the importance of compassion, empathy, and connection, Dr. Sharon Langshur, a co-founder of CarePages.com, has some simple advice for patients' friends, families and caregivers.
Say or do something.
"Even if you just admit 'I don't know what to say,' you're showing that you care enough to make the effort to communicate," says Dr. Langshur, whose company is healthcare's largest social network connecting patients and caregivers to communities of support. "Take the risk of trying to express your feelings, which is much better than having the patient think you're avoiding the elephant in the room."
National Patient Recognition Week was founded in 1995 to honor patients
and give healthcare organizations the opportunity to "demonstrate that
patients' needs go beyond the technical aspects of care to include
compassion, empathy, and connection." A former pediatrician who created
CarePages.com after her son was born with a heart defect, Dr. Langshur has
these tips from CarePages members, which also are featured in the book she
co-authored, "We Carry Each Other."
-- Allow patients to set the mood in conversations; if they want to laugh,
or vent, or cry, just go with it and be empathetic.
-- Avoid cliches such as "a positive attitude is everything," or, "what
doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
-- Ask about what they're going through and just listen; don't interject
stories about people you know who have been in similar situations,
since patients want to tell their stories.
-- When you offer to help, be specific (for example, "let me drive you to
the doctor tomorrow"); don't put the onus on the patient to tell you
what to do.
-- Acknowledge physical changes in an encouraging way without being
Pollyannaish, and remind the patient how special he or she is.
CarePages.com facilitates compassionate caregiving by providing free, private web pages that enable patients and caregivers to communicate and connect with each other. Nearly 700 healthcare facilities in North America currently offer customized versions of CarePages.com to their patients as part of their patient-centered care.
"Every hospital participating in National Patient Recognition Week should be congratulated for taking action to give patients more emotional support," said Dr. Langshur. "Our research shows that patients -- as well as their families and friends -- would appreciate more help in this area."
In a November 2007 survey of nearly 900 CarePages.com members and visitors, more than 92% said they would like to see healthcare providers be more proactive in providing emotional support. About two-thirds of respondents indicated that doctors and nurses could benefit from training that focuses on compassion and empathy.
CarePages.com is the largest site dedicated solely to helping people cope with the emotional difficulties caused by a health event. Nearly three million CarePages.com members have used its free, patient-centric web pages to communicate and connect with each other, plus its unique resources to guide them through the experience. In addition, customized CarePages are offered by nearly 700 U.S. and Canadian healthcare facilities. CarePages, Inc. is part of Revolution Health Group LLC, whose goal is to help consumers make informed choices and put them in control of their health decisions through the cornerstone of its efforts -- RevolutionHealth.com. Together, these services address both the emotional and informational health care needs of its members. For more information, please visit http://www.carepages.com.
About "We Carry Each Other"
"We Carry Each Other," by Eric and Dr. Sharon Langshur with Mary Beth Sammons, is the definitive resource on what to say and do when you or a loved one suffer illness or loss. Published by Conari Press; Category: Self-help; Available wherever books are sold. For more, visit http://www.carepages.com/we_carry.
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