Empathy and understanding. This is what a number of students and staff reported feeling after participating in Sharing Experiences events at Ko Awatea last week.
In the Empathy Zone, staff and students had the opportunity to use a range of hospital equipment to experience what it feels like for our patients .They used crutches, were hoisted from bed to chair, and could use a tilt table that lifted them to a 90 degree angle.
MIT nurse student Benjamin Mulipola experienced the medical lift. “It was a bit unnerving. I felt like I didn’t know what was happening. It helped me understand how patients feel. In the future, I will talk my patients through the process,” he said.
Lucy Akroyd, the physiotherapist from the Adult Treatment & Rehab Unit who was supervising staff and students on the tilt table — used to re-orientate spinal patients to a standing position— believes that this experience can help professionals stop to think about what our patients go through. “It is a scary experience for patients. It is good to know what it feels like for them to be in this position.”
Staff and students also had the opportunity to participate in various sensory modulation activities, such as meditation, aromatherapy and colouring, used to manage stress and anxiety. “We encourage patients and staff to take time to feel the sensations as a way of managing stress,” emphasised consumer nurse educator Jin Paterson.
Physiotherapy student Ashley Iro was surprised to see how aromatherapy can be used as a support for treatment. “It opened up a range of possibilities for me to use in my work with patients,” she celebrated.
Listen to understand
Following the Empathy Zone, eight patients and whānau shared their personal experiences of healthcare and the impacts of communication on their journeys with 51 nursing and allied health students from MIT and AUT. The focus was on learning, empathy and sharing experiences to gain a different insight into the patient experience.
According to one of the session organisers, Nancy Wright, Undergraduate and Entry to Practice Coordinator for Occupational Therapy, “It is a chance to hear about the experience of some of our patients and whānau, which offers an opportunity to relate someone else’s experience to our own lives. Students have a strong focus on being assessed and it offers them time out from that focus to put the ‘person’ at the forefront of experience. We all try to be patient-centred but other things get in the way. This is a chance to hear the patient’s experience.”
For social work student Trish Stack the key learning was in the detail. “Social work tends to be a long process. Hearing from consumers, it hit home how one small interaction can make a big difference in a patient’s life.”
Student dietitian Danika Pillay learnt that, “a patient’s experience is enhanced when we take the time to understand them, smile and be empathetic.”
Renee Greaves, Patient and Whānau Care Advisor, closed the session by reminding people that, “health and care work best in partnership. We have to understand what matters to our patients and our staff. It’s only by putting these together that we can understand what makes the best experience.”
Visit the Patient and Whānau Centred Care webpage for more information on patient experience and co-design at Counties Manukau Health.