• Question: how do u handle the upset or anger that patients will sometimes show

    Asked by joe.mama on 2 Jul 2021.
    • Photo: Carolyn Harris

      Carolyn Harris answered on 2 Jul 2021:


      I think it is really important to remember that most anger is caused by fear and worry either about themselves or a relative. We are trained to diffuse conflict and anger by using empathy and calming techniques but a lot of the time it comes down to making them feel that they are being heard and listened to.

    • Photo: Jamie Hynes

      Jamie Hynes answered on 2 Jul 2021:


      Through our training we try to look for the reasons underlying those intense emotions. Sometimes it’s nothing to do with the person on the receiving end and at other times we may have some degree of responsibility for that. Either way understanding and acknowledging the emotion (and if required apologising) and taking responsibility for what is required in order to put it right again.
      Conflict resolution techniques are helpful but not always easy to apply when faced with the level of emotion involved. When done well this can be incredibly therapeutic for the patient.

    • Photo: James Waldron

      James Waldron answered on 2 Jul 2021:


      It can be super challenging to deal with angry or upset patients. Often it is because they are scared or anxious about things – going to the Dr often makes people quite worried as you might expect.

      I find the best way is to speak more softly and calmly. You cant match anger with anger as it just gets worse. Clarity also helps so the patient knows what can and cant be done.

      I also feel its really important to try and understand what the patient might be feeling, be “empathetic”. It can be really hard to put yourself in their shoes but it can really help.

      The final thing, is to accept that sometimes when people are upset and angry with you, recognising that it can in turn make you quite angry and upset. This is normal to feel and a normal part of being part of peoples lives. Often you realise, you are feeling just a fraction of what the patient is feeling (for those Psychology buffs out there, this is called Transference) 🙂

    • Photo: Adrian Taylor

      Adrian Taylor answered on 9 Jul 2021:


      By asking myself why are they angry and how can we resolve the problem for them, often its a simple lack of communication

    • Photo: Laurence Quirk

      Laurence Quirk answered on 12 Jul 2021:


      – Showing empathy is a great start, saying things like ‘I can see you’re upset, tell me more about it’ and listening to them. Thinking – what would it be like if I was in their shoes.

      – Staying calm when inside you might be panicking. If you get angry it may add fuel to the fire so to speak and make the person angrier. Talking to them in a calm quiet voice can help.

      – Not dismissing their concerns and feelings can be important. They are important. It may seem like nothing to you but to them it can really matter.

      There is training for staff, but it’s still hard.

    • Photo: Sarah Chalmers-Page

      Sarah Chalmers-Page answered on 14 Jul 2021:


      Very few people choose to be angry or upset, and the most important thing you can do is put your own feelings to one side and listen. There’s often a problem you can solve – a delayed clinic that is making them frightened they will get a parking fine so you can promise they won’t miss their turn if they run and get the parking sorted, for example, or a misunderstanding around visiting times that you can explain. Even if that’s not the case, a listening ear and a (where appropriate) an apology will usually work better than defensiveness or anger. It’s almost never about you. And on the rare occasions that it actually is your fault, you need to be open to learning from that.

    • Photo: Anna Davis

      Anna Davis answered on 19 Jul 2021:


      It is difficult I think part of you does go into professional mode – often people are upset before they speak to you. It may be because of the situation or something entirely different like they have just got a speeding ticket and you are the next person they speak to.

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