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Jane Bates: Risk being annoying – a bit of banter lifts the mood

Even if your comedy routine isn’t always appreciated, humour is still a great way of helping patients to relax, says Jane Bates.
banter

Even if your comedy routine isnt always appreciated, humour is still a great way of helping patients to relax, says Jane Bates

As nurses, we are taught to listen to patients. Being ever alert to the way they breathe, how they move, what they say becomes a habit. But you dont always hear what you want to hear.

Preparing patients for cataract surgery, I overheard a relative being rather disparaging about the efforts of myself and my colleague to jolly everyone along. He used the expression double act, and dared to suggest we use the same patter every time.

This disrespect of our comedy routine was especially harsh as I had come up with a new joke. So no, I wanted to say, its not always the same. Fresh material each day, people.

Make them smile

We are

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Even if your comedy routine isn’t always appreciated, humour is still a great way of helping patients to relax, says Jane Bates

banter
Picture: iStock

As nurses, we are taught to listen to patients. Being ever alert to the way they breathe, how they move, what they say becomes a habit. But you don’t always hear what you want to hear.

Preparing patients for cataract surgery, I overheard a relative being rather disparaging about the efforts of myself and my colleague to jolly everyone along. He used the expression ‘double act’, and dared to suggest we use the same patter every time.

This disrespect of our comedy routine was especially harsh as I had come up with a new joke. So no, I wanted to say, it’s not always the same. Fresh material each day, people.

Make them smile

We are not there to pass the hat round, of course, but a hectic eye department can easily become like a sausage machine, so we endeavour to treat our sausages like human beings.

When patients come in white-knuckled and apprehensive, we aim to send them out smiling, because a relaxed patient generally fares better that one who is anxious and tense.

A bit of banter and repartee often does the job. Once we start, a patient or relative will pick up the baton, and you can almost feel the tension beginning to dissipate.

So rather than heed those wounding words, I will enjoy the comment of another patient, who said we kept spirits up ‘without being annoying’. I love that last bit – perhaps we’ll pass the hat round after all.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

 

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