Advocacy for the Deaf and Mute Patients

As you nurses go on with your daily tasks of carrying out doctor’s orders and caring for your patients, have you ever wondered what happened to the old fashion way of nurse-patient interaction? How many of your patients today have you actually took time to talk to and learn first hand information on what specific set of behaviour brought them to the hospital today? One? None?

With the nurse-patient ratio existent in many public hospitals today, it is quite impossible to attain this one basic principle you learned from Fundamentals of Nursing. It is not surprising that many people are still unaware how much activity a nurse must finish within her 8-hour shift. Most of the time, spending a quality nurse-patient interaction would be the least of the nurse’s priority because of staffing shortage as well as the tasks that she needs to accomplish within the day. As such, how will a nurse get sufficient clinical subjective information from the communication-challenged individuals, like the mute and deaf? Surely, a private hospital will have an in-house specialist for this type of clients. But how about the government or public hospitals? Would you say public hospital nurses are not up to this type of challenge? Before you make up your mind, here are two factors which, both the private and public hospital will have difficulty in resolving:

Patient’s Communication Skills

Bear in mind that effective communication involves feedback. Regardless of the presence of an in-house communication specialist within the private hospital, if the patient cannot communicate using the tools that the specialist have, there won’t be any progress at all. What will a nurse do if she has a deaf and mute as well as illiterate patient?

A nurse can use illustrations and photos to teach this type of patient, but to get the subjective data necessary to confirm a clinical status would require quality nurse-patient interaction and collaboration with the closest family member of the patient.

Reason for Hospital Admission

It is not surprising for a nurse to receive a patient with symptoms of abuse. She can take note of this from the bouts of crying or tension of the patient whenever the source of abuse is present. However, this may be difficult when the patient is both deaf and mute. It would be a real challenge to prove abuse, especially if clinical symptoms that are verifiable with physical examination in conjunction with laboratory tests provide no clues. The nurse will have to use her senses most of the time with these types of patients.

Being present inside the room every time someone visits the patient would be ideal. She can take note of her patient’s reaction towards the visitor to assess behavior. She can then recommend these observations to a psychologist.

These patients are those kind of patients that nurses need to spend more time to establish rapport. You can expect that individuals with this disability are more apprehensive of strangers.

Of course, nurses would like to get the ideal – a patient who can communicate his needs clearly and effectively. But alas, the situations most nurses are in, were most of the time, far from the ideal.

It’s circumstances like these that makes a nurse want to learn more – to get her communication skills amplified. She can voluntarily take courses on hand communication for the deaf and the mute. After getting these skills, she can gather out of school youth in her locale and teach the basics to these children and teenagers. At the hospital, she can propose a program for the admitted deaf and mute patients to learn the basics of this communication.

The nurse may not be satisfied with these simple altruistic methods, such that she can start to join NGO’s and advocate this in public schools, colleges and universities. In fact, a nurse can do a study on this and have it communicated to the allied health professions as a wake up call. Well, these are just ideas, but hey, human inventions resulted from ideas, right?

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