What CAN we do to make a difference?Melissa C. Palmer, LCSW ACHP-SW APHSW-C JD Oct 27, 2020
For many people, the pandemic has pushed us over the edge physically and emotionally. We are barely keeping our heads above water, and feel more challenged than ever to be present and supportive to our patients and their families. But many of us also feel the tug of an overarching mission to do good and help others. How can we reconcile the two opposing forces in our lives? How can we reconnect with our purpose as healthcare providers and palliative care community specialists?
Sometimes the big picture can be overwhelming; with all the political and societal craziness around us, we can feel like hiding under our covers and tuning out the world. If we are feeling this way, so are our patients. Acknowledging our patients’ difficulties, and really connecting about how the pandemic is affecting all of our lives, humanizes the process and allows us to exhale together. We can advocate for our patients by validating their reality.
We can also advocate in small ways that only take a moment. Finding creative work arounds for people who are home bound and are fearful to come in to the clinic or pharmacy to get their medications could be signed up for mail-order medications. The patients will get their medication on time and stay healthier by minimizing COVID-19 exposure. In assisted living and long-term care facilities, we can honor a patient’s wish to leave the blinds open so they do not feel so lonely and isolated from the outside world. When caring for patients in acute care, we can find ways to use technology to connect patients with their loved ones who may not be able to enter the facility.
Home-based practitioners can spend an additional five minutes checking in with patients about whether they have everything they need, and help patients to secure services like food delivery if they are unable or fearful of leaving home. We can also complete a brief screen on our patients to see how they are really doing psychologically, and whether they need additional support and interventions. Keep in mind that we may be the only people they have seen in weeks or months, and we are their life line.
The old adage “a little goes a long way” is applicable now; an act of kindness can bring a little light into the world for patients and their families.