Nurses Console Patient and Family


It would seem that much of the work that we do as a nurse involves our ability to console both patient and family.  On a daily basis, our patients and families are getting “the bad news” regarding their health.   As a nurse, therapeutic communication is an important part of your education.  We use a holistic approach to our care when we treat the patient, not the disease. Nurses console patient and family almost daily, it is what we do.

Nurses know how to use the basic concepts of therapeutic communication.  We develop a unique bond on an emotional level with patients and families that is hard to describe to a “non-nurse.” Learning to console patient and family is an important quality for a nurse.

I have a few tips on what I have found to work for me.  Having been a hospice nurse for many years gave me the opportunity to develop my approach.

Here’s what I believe works:

Undivided attention

  • Uninterrupted time with a patient and or family.  Find a quiet space or close the door to minimize as many distractions as possible.  Let your coworkers or others know you need an uninterrupted moment with your patient.

Eye level

  • Sit next to your patient and do not hover over them. Body position matters.


  • A light touch on the shoulder or arm.  Handheld if appropriate. Contact with the patient gives a sense of security.

Voice tone and level

  • A soft tone with consistent volume within your voice. Find that tone halfway between a whisper and normal conversation. Don’t raise your voice unless you feel the patient can’t hear you.


  • Make sure to keep a box of tissues handy.  The tissues are a compassionate suggestion of empathy and understanding.

Shut up

  • Let them talk. Let them express their feelings. Give them the time they need to process the information. It’s okay to sit in silence.

Put yourself in the patient’s position. What would you want from your nurse? What wouldn’t you want from your nurse? Remember this is about the patient and family and not about you.  If you feel the need to express your emotions you may need to excuse yourself from the situation.

Remember part of a nurses role in any facility is to console the patient and the family.

How do you console your patient?

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Cheryl Roby, RN

Cheryl J. Roby is a Registered Nurse and retired US Army Reserve Nurse Major. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and 26 years of military experience in the Army Nurse Corp. During her nursing career, she has traveled as part of her military experience visiting many of the 50 states and to South Korea. She was trained as an Army Medic during the Vietnam era and later as an OR tec. She went on to become a Licensed Practical Nurse and then completed her nursing training as a Registered Nurse. She was then commissioned as an officer in the Army Reserves. She appreciated the challenge of working in various specialties and expanding her clinical and professional skill sets. Her time in the Army Reserves and California National Guard gave her the opportunity to travel to most of the 50 states and work in other medical facilities. During her career, she had the opportunity to work in several specialties to include, OR, Occupational Health, Hospice, Sexual Assault Team, Forensic/ Correctional Nurse, Nurse Case Manager for developmental disabilities, Parish Nursing as well as a Nurse Entrepreneur.

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