ADV-Lesson 1- Communicating to Clients

Most emergencies require some type of veterinary attention and clients need to understand what qualifies as an emergency and what to do en route to your hospital. People experience physical as well as emotional stress when a medical emergency occurs with their beloved pet. If the pet is a large dog, they need to lift and move them into the car to get to you. The physical response to a person can include increased adrenaline, heart rate, and blood pressure while a psychological response might be tunnel vision, panic, anxiety, decreased brain functions, and irrational thoughts. In addition, many people experience fear, a feeling of helplessness and sometimes hopelessness. It is also normal for people to get angry when their pet’s well-being and/or life is threatened.

You need to be an advocate for your patients. To get a patient what it needs, it is imperative that you ensure that the client has the information and understands it.

Here are some helpful tips to use when you communicate to clients during a crisis:

  • Portray similar positioning to the client. For example, if they are sitting you should sit.
  • Listen more than you speak. It is important for you to get decisions from your client; listening to them will reassure the client, which in turn will help you get information from them quickly.
  • Ask specific questions
  • Do not talk about extreme or worst-case scenarios right away. Wait for the right time.
  • Don’t be judgmental. Don’t sit there and say “why didn’t they bring the pet in sooner?”. Thoughts like that are unproductive. Instead, focus on the fact that they did bring the pet in.
  • Be very aware of your tone, posture, and It is important to be calm and supportive
  • When delivering bad news, which we know in many cases we must, be direct. The American Red Cross recommends having a person focus on an object while you speak about the poor outcome. It helps them focus on what you are saying.
  • Know when to ask for help. In some cases, clients might not respond well to one of your team members, so you need to know when to switch out with someone else. If a client becomes threatening, make sure all your staff knows that for their safety they should call the police.
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