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Life of a PTA

Guarded Conversations

Published June 27, 2014 6:11 PM by Allison Young

Recently, in the middle of a treatment session, I had a patient worriedly ask me if the skilled nursing facility where we were working was "going out of business." Considering how random the question was, but more importantly how concerned the patient seemed, I attempted to ease his mind with the truthful answer of the facility's stable future.

I followed this up with a question about where he heard this information. The patient then stated he knew of employees' hours being cut and general nervous malaise spreading throughout the staff.

How would a patient know of staff members having garnished hours? Either an employee of the facility felt the need to share this type of information to the patient or (more likely than not) the patient overheard a conversation between staff. Whichever might have been the case, this additional stress is the last worry a patient should be concerned with.

When in the therapy gym or the busy hallways of the SNF, information between therapists and other healthcare staff is exchanged constantly. How easy is it to "vent" frustrations to each other -- whether about a specific patient, colleague or facility practice? Very simply human nature, of course. I find "discussing" my day with colleagues to be an imperative stress reducer -- when patients are not present and in the privacy of a closed therapy gym, that is. One unguarded and disparaging comment in front of an unassuming patient can potentially lead to days of confusion and anxiety for him.

Working in healthcare can be incredibly stressful -- as we all know. In addition, our patients can be compromised with pain, depression and anxiety of their own. Guarding our private conversations from patients is just another safety measure to insure patient comfort and confidence in their care team. Not to mention, avoid those awkward conversations.

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