Why don’t they listen?

I read about this a lot, and I wonder about it myself….when we go places, especially to the doctor and we tell the staff that we need special attention to be understood, or to understand….or to walk, ect…  Why do we have to say it again, and again, and again!

Why don’t they listen to what we say?  It has always bothered me, even before I became as ill as I am, that first you would fill out all the paperwork stating why you are at the doctor’s office, then you have to go over it with the nurse, then again with the doctor….why don’t they just communicate?  Do they think I’m lying?  “If we ask her the same questions over and over we might get different answers.”  Just talk to each other, and listen to your patients, please.

Now that I have issues that must be addressed for me to get what I need from a doctor’s visit, it’s worse.  I try to be very understanding about people forgetting that I can’t hear, or that I have balance issues and use a walker, therefore I walk very slowly.  I realize that humans take a long time to develop habits, and most nurses and staff I see change a lot, or I don’t go to their office much, under these circumstances I do my best to pleasantly remind them, over and over, that “I can’t hear you, I need you to look me in the face so I can read your lips, and I need you to talk slowly.”  They will say they understand, but then they will look at their computer and talk instead of talking to me.  Often I will just act like they said nothing to me.  My husband will turn and tell me what they said and I will answer, “Oh, I noticed you were speaking but since you weren’t speaking to me I thought you were talking to my husband.”  I get a blank look, then a light bulb….OH yeah!  She’s deaf.  Then they do it right for a question or two, then it goes back to talking where I can not understand.  A friend of mine who writes at: Another Boomer’s Blog, says she wants a shirt that says DEAF on the front and STILL DEAF on the back!  Yep, Still Deaf.  She also has some great posts about this subject, you should really check her out, especially if you have hearing issues.

As I said, I do understand that most people are not used to dealing with people like me.  They aren’t used to dealing with the deaf, and they aren’t used to dealing with someone who has to walk slow with a walker, or suddenly sit down because of balance issues.  Yes, I have nurses try to show me to my room and just take off and leave me.  I just say, “I’ll get there sometime.”  If they turn a corner, I sometimes just stop.  When they return, I simply tell them, “I didn’t know which way to go, I couldn’t see you.”  I really don’t mean to be rude, and I am compassionate, they are used to doing their job one way, and I’m asking them to change.  However, what happened to customer service, why are people not mindful of what they are doing….everything they are doing?  If a patient comes in, you pay attention to their needs, PERIOD.  Just as you should for any person you meet. (you open a door for someone who needs it, you pick up something a child dropped…..you help people out when you see it, why doesn’t this happen all the time?  Or am I just assuming most people would treat strangers like that?)  We need to pay attention to others.  Show love and compassion, why do people often have to be the “squeaky wheel” before they are paid any attention to?

At my otologist’s office I do not accept that the staff is not trained to deal with people who are Hard of Hearing or Deaf.  When I check in, they are looking at their computer….these same people have been working with me for over 3 years, I normally check in with the same person, he knows my name, he knows my husband’s name, but he is not trained to deal with a deaf person.  He does finally understand, and he moves his mouth more clearly than the other front staff, that’s why I try to check or out with him.  But why are they not trained better?  I have one nurse who normally works with my doctor, she is a dear sweet person.  She really cares.  Sometimes she will slip up and speak while not looking at me, but she usually catches it and quickly changes.  Also, she will come and get me in the waiting room, the other nurse that calls me back occasionally, just calls out my name.  I can’t hear her!  Why does it not say in big red letters on my paperwork, DEAF….and any other instructions they may need.  Why?

I had a test performed a couple of years ago at a different hospital.  I had to check in and I was shocked at how trained the check in person was.  I don’t know if everyone there was as great as she was, but she said they all had training on how to deal with certain situations.  She spoke clearly, looked at me, marked it on my chart that I could not hear and would need assistance.  My husband was with me, but that didn’t make a difference, they treated me like I was the patient and I had needs, they didn’t treat me like my husband was supposed to pick up the slack for me.  This hospital assigned a volunteer to walk me to my testing area, to stay with me until I was called back, she escorted me to the room I was to be in and explained to the person performing the tests about the situation.  You could have blown me over with a feather!

So now, I ask why?  Why don’t people listen to us?  (no matter what your special need)  Why aren’t more people trained like the staff at the other hospital I went to?  Why aren’t we all more compassionate towards others?

Yes, people should understand when we need special arrangements so we can be less disabled and more independent.  Not only that, but we need to get the same care any other person would, that is our right.

On the other hand, we also need to give people some slack, no I don’t mean the whole rope…just help them learn.  Think about the person who is treating you this way, how have they been trained?  How hard would it be for you if you were in their place to suddenly have to do everything different from you are used to?  What if this person has just dealt with an emergency and they are still shaken up but trying to do their job without letting you see it?  There are just so many things that can contribute to why someone isn’t understanding about what we are going through.  Don’t get upset….at least not at first….realize, it’s not about you, it’s the fact that they are human and humans are not used to change, and we simply don’t get it all of the time.  Try to pleasantly remind them what you need.

My husband used to always step in and try to make things right, but I want to understand the doctor and nurses myself, I don’t want to need him to always be there….plus, I’m not sure he always remembers everything they say.  So I started telling him to be quiet unless he was asked something, or if he needed to ask or input something (he is my caregiver after all), but if he talks he will have to stand by the doctor so both of them can face me, so I can hear both of them at the same time.  No more him beside me, and the doctor in front of me. There are types of interpreters that I can request to help me at the hospital or doctor’s office, I will explain these in a later post, and why I haven’t taken advantage of them.

I have found that simply not answering, or acting like I’m lost because I can’t keep up, has helped.  Just asking again doesn’t seem to do it most of the time, but if you make it harder for the person who is learning how to deal with you, then they are more likely to change their ways faster.

Of course, some people will never learn.

and often the people closest to us are the hardest people to understand a lot of this….but that’s for another post.

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5 thoughts on “Why don’t they listen?

    • Lisa, Don’t get mad…it has made me sad, but after writing this last night I’ve decided to talk to people at the hearing clinic, and tell them how I feel and how many other patients feel. They seem to be very responsive to patient’s needs when confronted. Perhaps they just need more of a shove toward official training on the subject, and accountability to do it correctly. I’ve always felt so helpless about these things, but I realized after my writing and reading more of Marsha’s words on Another Boomer Blog, that I need to step up and make my voice heard! I might not be able to hear, but I can talk!! : )

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  1. It makes too much sense that people who work in a “hearing” specialist’s office, should understand the communication barriers. What — something medical and common sense?!
    Not to be flip, but (for other reasons), like you, I find myself leaving doctor’s offices feeling worse than when I went in.
    Chronic illness/pain requires clear communications between the patient and the medical staff, doctors included. This should be facilitated, barriers to clear communication noted (Don’t ask me which specific non-daily meds I took over the last 30 days, in what amounts, and the outcome when the digitized copy of my records is on the laptop in front of you. Under medical conditions — memory issues is listed. It would have saved both of us a lot of grief), and acknowledging the patient AND the caregiver, not the caregiver or patient only.
    At least the neurology practice I visited this fall was professional, efficient, with well-trained staff throughout (except for the obviously bored check in clerk). Training extended beyond job descriptions “nurse,” “clerk,” “technician;” they knew how to deal with/interaction with people, including those with neurological problems. Leaves me hope that someday, the “healing arts” really will be.

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  2. I don’t get it either. My guess, it costs money to go to a short training seminar or buy material and learn the common sense stuff. It’s a small investment but is something that should have been taught while those working in the medical profession were still in school. Also, the bosses need to make sure that the staff are doing this as part of their job, not just when a patient has to remind them.

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  3. Service jobs of all kinds have really gone downhill so, sadly, it really doesn’t surprise me. These days it is always a pleasant shock to actually get good service–like you did at that other hospital. Doesn’t seem to matter where you do anymore–from shopping to restaurants to doctors offices to repairmen to any type of phone dealings…you name it…customer service is in a bad way. Make it harder on them–yes! That’s probably the only way you get through to the empty-headed, auto-pilot workers. 😉

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