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Emotionally vulnerable patients



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Who are these emotionally vulnerable patients? How do we recognize them? Are they different to us?

Anyone, because they are in hospital, becomes emotionally vulnerable as soon as they walk through the door. Some people have great coping strategies, lovely families and millions of friends – on the surface they look fine but underneath they may be as vulnerable as the next person who only has a dog for company at home and has had to leave their precious pet to come into hospital. The only way we find out about patients’ vulnerabilities is by getting to know them, which is where Brief Encounters comes in. It can be emotionally draining for staff we’ll talk about this later.

So, this is all about patients who are:

  • Frightened, confused, anxious
  • Struggling with bad news
  • In pain
  • Complaining
  • Depressed
  • Not getting better
  • Burdened with horrible life stories (where you feel you can’t help)
  • Fearing breaking down or losing control
  • Afraid of being stigmatized if they admit their fears and needs
  • Vulnerable because they can’t communicate
  • Reluctant to speak about vulnerabilities because they feel so many others are worse off than them
  • Living with a diagnosis of mental illness.


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