At Renown Rehabilitation Hospital, they are taking the concept of We C.A.R.E. one step further. As part of orientation for the facility, they are assigned a typical case and diagnosis and then have to live for half of the working day as that patient, including spending time in a wheelchair going through a typical patient schedule. They also learn about an actual patient and what they are going through on that particular day.
As part of “Patient Experience: A Lesson in Caring and Compassion,” they may be a patient with stroke, one with a high risk for falls, to give just two examples. They are assigned a room and a nurse and go through a typical therapy schedule for their condition, receive a meal tray and also see what response is like for a bed alarm.
Several employees who have gone through this program have walked away with a greater empathy and understanding of what their patients go through. Princess Dela Cruz, RN, wrote in her training essay that it was the first time she was ever in a wheelchair.
“I think it is a brilliant idea to have clinical professionals go through an experience like this,” she wrote. “It gives us more understanding and compassion for our patients.”
Even though she admits it “wasn’t too appealing,” Cruz’s eating of a different kind of diet during the training also helped strengthen her own compassion. She also praised the therapists at the facility after going through a session: “I had the chance to see how the patients are during therapy and see how amazing and brilliant our therapists are.”
Another RN at the facility, Blair Garbarino, said she enjoyed the entire process. “I see how busy the patients are during the day and got a first-hand feel for some of the challenges they are managing,” she wrote. “One of the working nurses made a point to come up and talk to us, changing to a crouch to be more at eye-level. That really showed how intimidating the ‘hovering’ stance can be. I certainly will be taking these lessons with me as I move into my daily patient care.”
Kelly House, Patient Experience Representative for Renown Rehab, said that the employees are clearly showing that they understand the patient experience better once the training is complete.
“Once they are providing care, our employees really can feel what the patients are going through because they put themselves in that position,” House said. “I think it’s a huge accomplishment to have this training here, and for us to keep it going. From nurses to CNAs to therapists, it just brings them closer to how the person is really feeling. I think everyone should go through it here, even if you’ve been here 20 years.”