General Patient Counsellor Guidelines

The process of counselling as a profession is guided by the following injunctions for the professional. These guidelines are also appropriate for the patient counsellors.
  1. Do no harm to others, only help others
  2. Respect the dignity, value and self-determination of all persons
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Service to society
  5. Honesty, integrity and impartiality
  6. Personal and Professional development
(have participants write down or discuss specific examples of when each point is important to be observed.)

Keeping in mind the purpose and function of the PC role is essential. Patient satisfaction is the highest goal of the PC. So understanding patient needs is necessary. The first area of satisfaction is physical comfort, so attending to these needs is important. But the special role of the PC is to be able to attend to the emotional needs of the patients. Many patients come to the hospital with feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness, fear and anxiety, low self-esteem and other intense and negative feelings. It is helpful to others to recognize these feelings, help them to share (release) those feelings by being interested in them, asking questions and listening for the response. Giving some patients a little extra time to talk about their problems can go long way in providing a quality service to the whole person, not just their eye.

Each PC has to manage their own time in prioritizing tasks they have to do. It is important to remember who you are first responsible for serving. The ideal is that it is the patient who comes first (in with reason) and the organizational needs come second. What is an example of how patients needs come first? Perhaps taking some extra time with a patient who seems in emotional distress or has lots of questions that can be simply answered by the PC. Always speaking in a gentle and kind manner cannot be underestimated. The way in which we interact with people is what being a PC is all about. An attitude of patience and helpfulness are a requisite along with non-judgmental acceptance of who they are. For this reason, do not ask any question that begins with a why to initiate conversation. To seek their reasons for something ask another form of open-ended question that starts with how or what.

Suggested outline for Engagment : Initiating Contact
  • An awareness of the importance of unspoken language
  • Your attitude determines your facial expression which determines your opening communication to another
  • Proper introduction with small talk to covertly explore emotional state
  • Ask if they have any questions, say thats a good question and reply with the answer or let them know you will find out for them or dierect them to who can help
  • State your purpose and goal
Suggestions for responding to feeling statements :
  • Use empathy, empathy and more empathy
  • Use empathy starters, attending skills, clarifying responses
  • Specifically ask what or how they are feeling
  • Clarify what you heard to check for accuracy
  • Value clarification - pick up on something that is important or of value to them, and repeat it back to them