The nurse-patient relationship has always been considered to be an essential aspect of the nursing profession, which has an impact on the wellbeing of both sides. The nurse-patient relationship has a unique purpose and is extremely complex and often difficult to understand from an outside perspective. The role played by the nurse is pivotal in patient care, as establishing a good relationship can be vital in helping the patient make clinical and psychological process. In the discussion that follows, I will explore the nature and relevance of the nurse-patient relationship and evidence why that it is fundamental in nursing as supporting the well-being of the patient, promoting recovery. Following on from this, I will reflect on my own experience of the nurse-patient relationship applying the knowledge I have acquired and consider how this affects my own personal and professional development.
As stated the nurse is a pivotal figure in patient care, therefore it is important to understand the nature and relevance of the nurse-patient relationship. Chiu and Mok (2004) suggest that nurses who develop trusting relationships demonstrate a holistic approach to caring; they are reliable, proficient, competent and dedicated in their care. This holistic nature of working is achieved through the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s Code of Professional Conduct (2002); they believe that nurses are responsible for developing appropriate relationships and safeguarding the interests of their patients as this allows the patient to be supported and protected in a trusting and secure atmosphere. The NMC code of conduct consists of six main principles; trust, respecting individuality, collaboration, consent, confidently and boundaries; each being fundamental for forming an effective nurse-patient relationship.
Trust is an essential principle in the development of the nurse-patient relationship; this is because the balance of the power lies with the nurse and this makes the patients and their family feel extremely vulnerable. The patient is exposed to an unfamiliar environment and that creates dependency, making trust vital in order to eradicate the patient’s fear and anxieties. (Raeve, 2002) suggests that the qualities of a nurse such as; friendliness and confidence are vital in developing the fragile trust which patients have developed in the health care service due to assumptions of skills and knowledge. Trust is a large aspect in the nature of the nurse-patient relationship as this makes the patient accessible to the nurse and, therefore, the healthcare which is needed. (Reave, 2002) The importance of individuality is suggested by Castledine (2004) who believes that the key to a successful nurse-patient relationship is being non-judgemental, listening and the ability to treat each patient as a unique individual. This is a key aspect in the nurse-patient relationship as it develops trust and co-operation if the patient is treated with respect.
Another important principle of the nurse-patient relationship and the NMC Code is collaboration with the patient; collaboration enables the patient to be involved with their health care which relieves the stress and anxieties that can created from the alien ‘medical’ environment. Empowering patients to participate in their care was suggested by Pembrey (1984) who acknowledged that the nurse working in partnership with the patient, and their careers, deliberately transferred some of their knowledge and skills; this allowed the patient to increase their competence and control, and preserve their dignity. Castledine (2005) also outlines the importance of collaboration, he suggests that it increases the likelihood of co-operation and makes the patient more responsive to their care plan and treatment. Collaboration is an important aspect of the nurse-patient relationship as it ensures the patient never feels inadequate it allows the patient to be involved with their own treatment; it also confirms the...
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