Regardless of the industry you work in, you'll have to work with difficult individuals. While most professions involve a client-business relationship, certified nursing assistants are far more intimately involved with their "clients" than practically any other career. While this is the source of much joy for many CNAs, if your patient is difficult to deal with, this level of intimacy can quickly transform from a pleasure to a headache. Although the exact levels you take to deal with difficult patients as a CNA vary based upon your style of care, there are several techniques and tips you may follow to help streamline this process without losing your temper, or job.
Instantly Communicate With Difficult Patients
You've arrived at work and while you're excited to start your day, this excitement quickly melts when you realize you've been assigned Mr. Crankypants. Instead of avoiding him, immediately rush to his room and inform him you'll be his aide for the day. Never delay introducing yourself. Avoid meeting Mr. Crankypants only when you have to deal with him. Even if you must tend to other patients first, a nice introduction can help prepare the dynamic of your day.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Never work alongside a difficult patient without opening the floor for complete communication. While you should detail what your plans are for the day regarding their treatments, ask him if there's anything special you can do for him. Perhaps he's in a particularly bad mood and doesn't want to be bothered with non-essential duties (duties that you can avoid at the patient's request). By asking the patient what they need and how they are, you're giving him a true say in how his day will go, instead of simply forcing him into situations that could irritate or aggravate him beyond reason.
Anticipate Patient Needs
Unless this is the first time you've worked with the patient, try to anticipate their needs. This small step speaks volumes to patients who are unhappy or mentally drained due to their treatments or current health level. For example, if you know that Mr. Crankypants rings the bell for a glass of water at 10am each day, arrive in his room a few minutes early with a glass of water and willingness to perform any other duties.
Remember, the Patient is a Person
In the hectic work environments many CNAs must drudge through, it's easy to forget that behind a cranky and mean face is a person, not simply a patient. One of the most effective ways of dealing with a difficult patient is to actually talk to them. Inquire about their current mood. Ask how they're doing and if they need anything. Try to find common interested so you may move conversations outside of the realm of nursing and into a personal/comfortable area. Of course, if the patient is rude or insulting, let the patient know that you are offended. However, if the patient continues to be cranky and rude, refrain from saying anything. While you cannot ignore the patient, ignore the negative energy the patient is sending out. If at all possible, continually try to replace this negativity with positive energy, but don't be too pushy with it. Sometimes, there's no pleasing a patient. If this is the case, perform your necessary duties with a smile and move on to the next patient.