Nursing & Patient Education: Patients With Special Needs

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  • 0:00 Special Needs
  • 0:36 Developmental Delays &…
  • 2:28 Illness & Sensory Impairment
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

In this lesson, you're going to learn about the different special needs patients may have and how they relate to patient education and the different aspects thereof.

Special Needs

As a nurse, you will come across a wide swath of patients you will need to educate. They will vary based by race, gender, beliefs, culture and language. They will also vary based on special needs. Some people you educate will be essentially of sound body and mind; others will have serious disadvantages. They may have sensory impairments. They may have a chronic illness. They may have a developmental delay or poor literacy skills.

These scenarios pose additional challenges that must be overcome with different kinds of strategies. Let's go over some of them.

Developmental Delays & Poor Literacy

A person is considered to have an intellectual disability, formerly called mental retardation, if they have an IQ score of less than 70. There are different severities of intellectual disabilities, and thus, your teaching strategies will need to vary based on this.

For instance, you will be able to educate a person with a minor intellectual disability relatively effectively by discussing simple topics in simple ways. This means no big words. Additionally, you'll need to use very straightforward sentences and a concrete language to get your point across. There may not be much room for nuance, subtlety and double-meanings in such a discussion. Games will also be beneficial in educating and engaging such clientele. And repetition will be critical in reinforcing the points you need to get across.

On the other hand, people who have a profound intellectual disability cannot truly learn in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, you'll have to communicate frequently, and repetitively, with clients who are profoundly intellectually disabled.

People who have poor literacy skills have their own unique sets of challenges. When it comes to health, health literacy goes beyond traditional reading skills. Health literacy involves reading skills, reading comprehension, health care decision-making skills and basic math skills. It has been shown that people with low health literacy are more likely to have a poor health status. This means it will be of utmost importance that you assess health literacy in a client of yours prior to beginning a teaching plan, because the majority of your teaching material is likely to be in printed form, even though about 1/3 of the population in the U.S. has some form of poor health literacy. Strategies for teaching people with low health literacy levels include: using very simple words, using lots of examples and giving very clear definitions.

Illness & Sensory Impairment

Clients who have chronic illnesses, illnesses of a long duration, have their own concerns that may impede their learning. For instance, a person who has arthritis may find it very painful or difficult to move during a role-playing exercise, or a demonstration of some sort. Individuals with a chronic illness like diabetes must be assessed as to their understanding of self-care as the disease, their body's response to it and their medication changes over time.

People who may have a chronic problem, such as high blood pressure, need to be constantly updated as to how the medication they are taking is helping them now and how it will help them in the future. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer because it rarely causes any overt signs and symptoms, despite insidiously causing great harm to the body's tissues and organs over time.

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