Honor Thy Patient
Toni Patt's post, "The Cost of Being Ethical," is the textbook definition of honoring your clients. She treated them with honesty, fairness and integrity by refusing to allow others to compromise their care. The outcome: She lost her job. Fortunately, the sacrifice isn't usually that great. However, honoring others does require being personally inconvenienced to some degree.
My first job as a PT was in a teaching hospital. I learned many valuable skills there, but honoring patients wasn't among them. Patients were scheduled at the clinicians' convenience. After all, when you're an inpatient what else do you have to do except be at the staff's beckon call? Our caseload was so high that when patients refused treatment, while I felt bad they weren't getting therapy, mostly I was just relieved. It never occurred to me that honor, or a lack of it, could be an issue.
Home health taught me how to honor my clients, though I didn't recognize it at the time. Providing therapy in clients' homes, you have no choice but to accommodate their schedules -- they can lock you out. "The Price is Right" TV show was my biggest competitor, and I quickly learned the soap opera schedules. Seeing them in their home environments changed my perspective on which treatments were valuable and what end goals mattered.
When I left home health, I carried a new mindset with me. I had learned to customize therapy in ways that supported the patients' best interests, which surprisingly were not always the same as the best outcomes I was taught to achieve. As I changed my approach to patient care, I learned the power of giving a patient control of his surroundings.
To a patient confined in the hospital, even the opportunity to choose between being seen in the morning or afternoon can be empowering. When I allowed myself to be personally inconvenienced, the patients were more receptive to therapy, less likely to cancel, and more likely to accommodate a change in schedule or try an unappealing treatment.
As Toni knows all too well, the price of honor can be high, but the rewards are great. How do you honor your clients?