6 Principles of care learned from an American red cross donation

American Red Cross Donation Cover

I gave my first American Red Cross donation of blood at the start of the pandemic in 2020 and experienced the six principles of care for the first time.

I realized there might be a shortage of blood because of the coronavirus. I was inspired by the example of my father-in-law, who regularly gave blood before his death.

No one schedules a blood draw for the fun of it. Giving blood is uncomfortable. When done incorrectly, it can even hurt.

My first and subsequent experiences with giving blood were professional and personable. Every two months, I return to the American Red Cross because of my positive interactions with them.

I discovered that six principles of care guide every American Red Cross donation of blood. I believe we can benefit from applying these six principles to our interactions with hurting people at home, the workplace, and our places of worship.

What are the six principles of care I learned during my American Red Cross donation?

The six principles of care listed by the American Red Cross / CNA in their training materials are dignity, infection control, safety, communication, independence, and privacy. (I have paraphrased them below for clarity and brevity.)

Dignity. Be respectful and friendly. Where at all practicable, maintain face-to-face contact, speak directly to the individual, and use their name when addressing them.

Infection Control. Hands should be washed or sanitized before and after interactions. Wear gloves, if appropriate, use personal protective equipment, and use table barriers, garbage, and linen bags. Carry linens and supplies away from the floor.

Safety. Validate/check the ID band, and welcome them by using the name on the band. Using proper body mechanics, lock your brakes, and, if possible, use side rails. Install a call light and provide warmth.

Communication. Introduce yourself by using your proper name and title. Remember to practice strong interpersonal skills such as conversing, interacting, and giving clear guidance. Explain the treatment (in non-medical terms); monitor and keep track of the results.

Independence. Request permission to carry out the operation (using non-medical terms). Please encourage them to make decisions and take charge of as much of their care as they can.

Privacy. Before entering, knock on the door to announce your presence, and then close the door and pull the curtain closed. Drape them as needed; do not show their body excessively or unnecessarily.

What are the benefits of the six principles of care in an American Red Cross donation?

There are obvious benefits to the six principles of care.

If the interactions are pleasant, personable, and professional, an individual would probably give blood again. They might even encourage others to do the same. (It worked with me!)

If it hurts, I am unlikely to return. Discomfort is expected. But prolonged pain is not.

How can you adapt and use the American Red Cross donation six principles of care in your relationships?

These six principles can apply to any caring relationship, whether at home, work, or church.

Dignity. How much better would our relationships be if we maintained face-to-face contact and used an individual’s name when speaking directly to them? These simple behaviors affirm that God created them in his image and are worthy of love and respect.

Dignity is the foundation of any caring relationship; without it, relationships break under even under the least amount of stress. With it, they endure.

Infection Control. In caring for the hurting, do we maintain a standard of care for ourselves? If we are not careful, we can become sick and even toxic to others.

Safety. Are we a safe person for others to share their hurts and fears? Can we be silent and physically present to witness and experience the pain someone else feels in the moment? Can we place their welfare above our convenience and preferences?

Communication. Are we able to engage in a two-way conversation? Some of us like to talk, while others prefer to listen. If we care, we will develop both skills and know when to use them.

Independence. Are we reluctant to entrust others with their care? Are we a relationship control freak?

Privacy. Can you keep confidence? Are you a person that is worthy of trust? We must remind ourselves that it is not our story to tell but theirs.

If a family declines to provide dignity and privacy, its members will look elsewhere for them.

If a workplace communicates poorly with its employees and creates an unsafe workplace, it will not retain its workforce.

If going to church hurts, an individual is unlikely to return. Discomfort is expected. But prolonged pain is not.

My American Red Cross donation experience convinced me that an emphasis on dignity, containing toxic relationships, creating a safe place to engage others, improved two-way communication, a willingness to let others actively participate in their healing, and respecting another’s privacy can lead to better relationships at home, work, and our communities.

Call To Action

Consider how you might implement the 6 principles of care into your personal and work relationships.

Please consider scheduling an American Red Cross donation of blood to help others.

If you liked the article, please share it with your friends and especially the leaders at your house of worship.