I had a situation with an elderly member whose family was arguing about her care. She was scared and crying and couldn’t speak because of the strong emotions being expressed. I took a minute to focus on her and helped her calm down. Then, I asked the family to give me a moment so I could review the patient privacy laws. I came back to speak with the calmest family member and gave them an explanation, along with documents they needed to determine who would be responsible for her care. It ended well, but it was very difficult. When something stressful arises, take a minute to breathe and put yourself in the other person’s position. If a person is truly irate, turn to your co-workers or a supervisor to back you up. Two heads are always better than one. Don’t flat out say ‘no.’ Say, ‘Let me check into this for you.’ This lets them know you are working with them and not against them. The words you use can defuse a situation. They will remember that you tried.
Charlisa Heiligh-Griffin, lead technician, OPEIU Local 2 (Mid-Atlantic States)