Unless a patient has a lot that they want to talk about, which is not normally the case, visits are mostly only perhaps 15 minutes or so in length – not very long to get to know something about a person. But in that short time it is important to connect with each other if our conversation is to be anything more than a surface or inconsequential chat; although of course there is nothing wrong with that in itself!
However my aim is always to try to do more than that – to enable each and every patient I see to be able to share the issues that are of real concern in their circumstances which, frequently, they have never experienced before and therefore, can be quite daunting. I want to bring them hope for the day and for the future; whether that might be returning home and picking up life as before or facing a completely different life, for example, being less able than before or moving to residential care.
Very often it is possible quickly to find some mutual connection that sparks conversation and perhaps that isn’t surprising when we remember that it is estimated that through 6 of our contacts each of us could find some, maybe very small, connection with everyone else on the planet! And a slight connection is all that is needed…
The connection could be anything – a place we both know or have visited at some time, an interest of some sort, work (current or past), being a fellow Christian or many other things. The secret is to try to find that connection as quickly as possible!
From time to time I am asked by someone I know to visit a friend or relative of theirs and recently this has happened more frequently. In these situations we have a ready made and immediate connection – the person we both know.
Over the last five years, while working within the SPaRC team, I have gradually worked out various ‘openers’ which I can use to help to draw alongside and connect with those I visit. This, I believe, assists in making the time patients and I spend together as beneficial as possible.