Agrace HospiceCare program looks to improve patient-caregiver communication
JANESVILLE The dilemma for hospice volunteers such as Bob Stevens is knowing how much to tell clients diagnosed with life-limiting conditions.
“I think you have to be able to communicate with these people to the best of your knowledge. You can’t lie, and they’ll ask you a lot of questions,” Stevens said.
He encouraged volunteers and others to seek answers at a free educational program Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Agrace HospiceCare, 3001 W. Memorial Drive, Janesville.
It’s open to the public and anyone is welcome, including caregivers, family members, health care professionals, parish nurses and those who visit the homebound, said Community Relations Manager Lisa Brown of the Agrace Rock County office.
“Spouses can come, as well,” she said, “because sometimes they’re looking for tools to be able to start conversations, as well.”
Concise communication can reduce stress, prevent misunderstandings and put patients at ease, said Stevens, who volunteers with Agrace HospiceCare.
“It makes me and the patient feel comfortable talking,” he said.
Brown said the program objectives include:
-- Greater understanding of the dynamics of conversation in a health care setting.
-- Awareness of why health conversations are more complex.
-- Definition of health care communication goals that allows caregivers to be stronger advocates and for patients to have greater voices.
-- Tools to start and manage these conversations.
“When we have a more active role in our health care conversations, we feel empowered and find greater satisfaction in our health care experience,” Brown said.
The program will provide tips to paint a more precise picture for health care professionals. Telling a doctor that a loved one seems more forgetful is vague. Telling the doctor you’ve noticed three times in a week that your mother’s door was left unlocked is providing specifics.
“It’s learning how to start documenting things in ways that build a more true picture,” Brown said.
Brown said those attending the program can share personal experiences about dealing with frustrating situations and barriers.
“To know you’re not alone in this caregiving issue is very powerful,” she said.
Brown hopes attendees leave the program knowing they should have health care conversations before an emergency.
“Being able to talk about them freely now will make people more comfortable when that crisis happens because that’s when we’re not always thinking clearly and responding well,” she said.
If you go
What: Agrace HospiceCare educational discussion: “Clear Communication in Tough Situations”
When: 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12.
Where: Agrace HospiceCare, 3001 W. Memorial Drive, Janesville.
Registration: Advance registration is requested by calling Amy Ketterer at 608-327-7202.