Personal Care Specialist Melinda Tobin has found a unique way to develop some special bonds with her patients and families. It started with a visit to the bookstore.“I saw the book and I thought it would be a good ice-breaker,” Melinda explains. [quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]“It’s been really well-received,” Melinda says. “It is a surprise to them and sometimes there are things the families didn’t even know.”[/quote]
“The Book of Myself,” by Carl and David Marshall, is a do-it-yourself autobiography. It offers over 200 questions ranging from childhood toys, crushes, and forbidden exploits to adult achievements and how one’s views change over the years. Melinda bought the book and started using the questions with some of her patients to learn more about them.
“I usually start with questions about their work experience because it’s a comfortable place for them to start talking about themselves,” she says. “They like talking about their families. I get to know them on a personal level more quickly and intimately.”
As they talk, Melinda writes down what the patients share with her. “It’s something the patient and I share,” she confides. “We make a more personal connection.” As she builds upon her questions, her written notes provide a portrait of the patient that she ultimately presents to the family.
“It’s been really well-received,” Melinda says. “It is a surprise to them and sometimes there are things the families didn’t even know.”
Melinda says on a personal level she has gained insights into how hard times were for many of her patients. As an example she explains of one patient who had lived through the Great Depression. “She had a round metal tin that she would put all string in. If she had a loose thread on something she would cut it off and wrap it around cardboard and place it in the tin. Myself, I would trim the thread and throw it away. I had the opportunity to use some of the thread one visit when she had lost a button off her blouse.” Some of the stories she hears are recollections that bring laughter. “I had a patient who was driving and was pulled over by the police. My patient didn’t have his drivers license yet. He told the police officer he was in the military hoping the officer would let it slide, but the policeman told him he couldn’t drive. He said no problem his wife would drive. His wife got in the drivers seat but she had no clue how to operate a stick shift. His wife drove operating the steering wheel and brake while he operated the stick. True teamwork! My patient got a real kick out of sharing this story.“
“Each and every story is touching,” Melinda observes. “I absolutely recommend this approach to others. It helps the patient understand we are interested in them on a personal level and we are not just there to be a physical caregiver.”