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This assignment will reflect on a moment of connection that was experienced with a patient whilst on clinical placement. This assignment will discuss the strategy that was experienced and what made the moment of connection therapeutic. The strategy that will be discussed throughout this assignment is that of facial expressions, this is a non-verbal strategy. The importance of understanding facial expressions when dealing with a patient’s needs, wants, and desires will be discussed throughout this assignment.

The
connection between the patient and staff is vital. A nurse-patient connection
is defined as a ‘helping relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect,
the nurturing of faith and hope, being sensitive to self and others, and
assisting with the gratification of your patient’s physical, emotional, and
spiritual needs through your knowledge and skill’ (Pullen, 2010, P.4). The
importance of a good nurse-patient relationship is to ensure that the patient
feels safe and able to communicate with the nurses in order for them to reach
the patient’s needs, wants and wishes. This is why good communication skills
are a necessity in the healthcare profession. Communication is defined as a
broad, complicated component which includes verbal and non-verbal behaviour. In
which we distribute advice to our colleagues (Crowther, 1991). There’s a wide
range of verbal and non-verbal communication including paralanguage, touch,
body language, eye contact, and facial expression. Metacommunication is a term
used to describe all the components that can influence how information is
perceived.

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My
strategy is facial expression which is a non-verbal component. My moment of
connection was when I noticed there was a lady that arrived the night before.
She arrived with a query transient ischemic attack also referred to as a TIA. A
TIA is known as a mini-stroke, it is caused by a lack of blood supply to the
brain, although it does not have a permanent effect on the patient, it occurs
before a stroke (Chen, 2016). She was more independent than the other women but
still at risk of falls, she had eaten her breakfast and wanted a shower, the
healthcare assistant gave her a basin that we used for bed bathing a patient. I
checked on her to make sure she was doing ok. Although she said yes, you could
tell by her facial expression and a slight smile, that she was not satisfied.
She wanted a shower but did not have anyone to assist her, but I assisted her
in getting some independence back.

Facial
emotion recognition is an aspect of socializing between colleagues. Being able
to recognise a patient’s facial emotion is mandatory in the healthcare setting
(Blanch-Hartigan, 2012). The creator of facial emotion recognition, Paul Ekman
once said ’emotion signals emerge almost instantly when an emotion begins. When
we are sad, for example, our voices automatically become softer and lower, and
the inner corners of our eyebrows are pulled up’ (Paul Ekman, 2003, p.73). I
was able to recognise the patient’s emotion of dissatisfaction by her facial
expression, a polite smile but also a look of frustration due to her
independence being slowly taken from her.

Facial
expression is key in the healthcare setting, especially when trying to discover
a person’s pain to treat their needs. Studies have been done in order to see
the importance of facial expression when a patient is suffering. A study showed
patients doing physiotherapy on their shoulders, whilst having shoulder pain,
they were observed by judges (Prkachin et al. 1994). The judges were aware of
the patient’s pain, but they were not aware of exactly the amount of pain being
experienced by the patient. There is no research to show how members of the
healthcare profession can help the communication of pain whether it is verbal
or non-verbal. Studies have been shown that a person’s pain can be altered
slightly due to social interaction. Peeters and Vlayen (2011) undertook an
experiment, the contributors received the same treatment (electric shock
therapy) although one contributor showed less facial expression of pain due to
being told that their acquaintance received more electric shocks. (Coded with
the child facial coding system; Chambers et al. 1996). When dealing with a
patient’s pain medication management is vital. As seen in the Nursing and
Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) medication faults occur every day across
Ireland although they are preventable (National Medicines information centre,
2001).

The
smile is one of the main facial expressions. A person’s smile can have multiple
meanings. It can reveal many emotions such as enjoyment, and other positive
feelings, but it often shows politeness and can act as a disguise for negative
feelings such as dissatisfaction and embarrassment (Fernández-Martín, et al.
2017). In a new study, they aimed to discover how trustworthy a person is with
a smile on their face. They looked at it depending on slight changes in eye
expressions. Trusting other individuals is essential for good nurse-patient
relationships. Humans are automatically drawn to others based on their facial
expression and we try to determine how trustworthy others are. The arrangements
of effects were similar for happiness and trustworthiness. The results of this
study stated that both judgments were conscious to small changes from happy to
non-happy eyes in a face with a smiling mouth and conscious to differences in
the nature of the eye expression. The happier a face was, the more trustworthy
it looked and, the faster the decisions were made. These results were similar
to past studies that were conducted (Centorrino et al., 2015).

Facial
expressions are used throughout the clinical environment to display emotions
and feelings of a patient’s worries. It is a vital communication source
especially for a nurse to understand their patient’s desires and to be able to
connect with the patient and their family members. Facial expressions not alone
show happiness, but it demonstrates the pain a patient is in and this pain can
be resolved by nurses throughout their daily tasks. As Daniel Goleman once said
‘people’s emotions are rarely put into words, far more often they are expressed
through other cues. the key to intuiting another’s feelings is the ability to
read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, gesture, facial expression and the
like’.

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