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Six ways nurses can encourage self-care amongst patients

Nurses take care of their patients, providing them with all the help and care they need to recover from their illnesses and lead healthy lives. But this relationship of care is not one way; nurses cannot help the patients if they are not ready to help themselves. Patients often derail nurses’ efforts by not complying with their instructions and not following their prescribed care regime. The hurdles posed by the patients can extend their stay in the hospital. 

If you are a nurse facing the same issue of dealing with stubborn patients who are adamant about not taking their medication on time or going for a walk when asked to, this article is for you. There are a few ways nurses can instill self-care in their patients. Using these ways, you can help your patients recover fast. At the same time, you can be more efficient in your job. 

You can improve patient outcomes and benefit your facility at a broader level. The goal is to treat the patients so that they start taking ownership of their health and understand their role in keeping themselves healthy. 

Upskill yourself to enhance your worth 

Patients feel more confident when qualified nurses treat them. As a nurse, your higher skills and qualification will be visible by how you conduct yourself around the patients. Nurses who lack decision-making and confidence cannot motivate their patients to accept guidelines and follow their advice. Your display of self-doubt trickles down and reaches your patients. Therefore, the best way to encourage your patients to go by your words is to excel in your work and have higher skills. You must get higher education through a BSN or a BSN to MSN online degree if you are an RN already. Online education is a better choice than on-campus classes because they give you the freedom to work and study side by side. With better education, you have the latest researched-backed information that you can share with your patient to increase the worth of your words. 

Make short term goals for your patients 

You cannot make people responsible for their health overnight. But the same can be achieved when you make small goals and share them with your patient. When your patients achieve their goals, they feel motivated to move one step further and hit the next milestone. For instance, if your patient is obese, you can start by advising them to have short walks every day instead of pushing them to hit the gym and burn all the fat in one day. Since the latter is impossible, they can easily feel dejected and discouraged. You can start this routine when they are under treatment with you in the hospital. Once you see the progress, you can talk them into keeping the same routine at home. 

Provide informative material

Patients seem more inclined to follow a directive when they are confident about the authenticity of the claim. Therefore, nurses must keep official brochures and informative material to share with their patients. You can also provide information related to their specific condition. The more aware they are of their illness and its spread, the more eager they may be to cooperate with you and follow your instructions. You can also provide brochures about taking care of one’s health in general. 

Detecting patient needs

Nurses are trained to detect patient needs and provide them with help without asking for it. This preemptive attitude can instill the same proactiveness in their patients. Some patients are very good at taking such cues and are inherently concerned about their health and wellness. Even though they also need the help and support of the nurses, a little push is enough to encourage them to develop an integrated effort with the nurses. 

Helping such patients is much easier because they easily detect the warning signs that their body gives them. On the contrary, there are the non-compliant patients. Nurses need to have a different approach for them. They need to constantly work with such patients and reinforce their beliefs about rehabilitation and wellness. The treatment plan must include ways to reinforce motivation by engaging in small talk or any other manner. Nurses can instill health and wellness goals in such patients by justifying each step. In cases when obedience does not work, a rational and logic-driven approach can often strike the right chords. 

Kindness and consideration

Patients come to the hospital in their most vulnerable form. They are unsure and uncertain about their health, how long they will have to stay in the hospital and what they will learn about their diagnosis. They need all the help, compassion, and consideration they can get during their stay in the hospital. So, when logic and information do not seem to work, your compassion and consideration can. Talk to them about their fears, and give them hope of living a healthy life. Reinforce their belief that they will return to their family and kids very soon, but the process can speed up if they help you. Hitting the right chords might seem a little complicated initially, but once done, you can achieve your goal pretty quickly. 

Follow up with patients

Your relationship with your patient does not end with their stay in the hospital. Instead, it should be long-term through follow-up checks and reminders long after they are discharged. It is very uncommon for patients to follow the hospital’s prescribed routine when they leave the facility. But nurses can motivate them to stick to it by making follow-up calls and setting routine check appointments with doctors. 

This additional support in the personal capacity of nurses can solidify the relationship between care facilities and patients. During this process, nurses may meet patients who may not be very happy with these emails and calls. In contrast, others may praise their effort of going out of the way to help others. There is a lesson for nurses that not all patients are the same, which is also the biggest challenge of their job. 


Nurses can make their efforts more meaningful by encouraging their patients by instilling self-care. When patients follow the directives, the efforts of a healthcare provider such as a nurse amplifies. Nurses can motivate their patients more than other healthcare providers because of their unique position of spending the most time with the patients. From treating patients to educating them, nurses can motivate patients for self-care in many ways. 

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