Today in the chart

Don’t Let Covid-19 Get in the Way of Compassionate Nursing

PPE can make compassionate care difficult. Here are six ways to nurse with care while wearing protective gear.

Compassion and nursing are bedfellows, but the Covid-19 pandemic has strained this symbiotic relationship. What once was conveyed by touch and nonverbal communication can no longer be because of the need for social distancing and PPE. Instead, it can make compassionate care difficult.

The use of PPE, particularly face masks and gloves, form a barrier to communication and expressing compassion. One study found that patients perceived healthcare professionals in PPE as lacking empathy, negatively impacting the relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider.

Patients perceive compassion as an awareness of distress and moving from that awareness towards a desire to actively relieve that distress, reports Nursing Times. Touch is a way to signal to patients that nurses are practicing these aspects of compassionate care. And studies have shown that touch -task-orienting, comforting, or emotionally containing- is in greater need by patients who have been isolated and separated from their families because of severe or terminal illness, age, or chronic pain.

Touch is a powerful tool for expressing kindness and building the trust in which compassionate care thrives. It is a way to communicate attention, sympathy, closeness, reassurance, and presence. This is why it is important to employ alternative ways to communicate compassion.

6 Ways to Practice Compassionate Nursing While Wearing PPE

Sometimes small actions can make a difference. Whether using your voice differently, pantomiming your feelings, or relying on your eyes more to relay your emotions, there are ways to show compassion toward your patients through your PPE. Try some of these suggestions from the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network:

  1. Consider How You Hold Your Body.

How abrupt are your movements around, toward, and away from your patient? What is your posture like? What is your head doing? Where are your hands resting?

  1. Connect With Your Eyes

Be present, and don’t interrupt. If you sense sadness, look them in the eyes with kindness and gently touch your heart.

  1. Hug Yourself

Fold your arms around your body and stroke one of your arms gently. This can also work if you rock slightly side-to-side instead. Both can be soothing movements for the patient as well as a calming one for you.

  1. Use Hand Signals

Use the “ok” sign, two hands applauding, thumbs up, a gentle wave, fingers crossed, palms together in a prayer sign, or two arms raised in a “hurray” gesture.

  1. Sing

Consider gently singing or humming while performing interventions or care. If you’re unsure what to sing, check what songs calm your children down, or look to your playlist for songs that bring you peace and quiet.

  1. Tone of Voice

Speak to your patients as you would if you are soothing a small frightened child.

Subscribe to our M-F newsletter
Thank you for subscribing! Welcome to The Nursing Beat!
Please enter your email address