Powerful Long-Term Strategies to
Enhance the Nurse Patient Relationship
Strategy #1: Communicating with Empathy
Year-Long Strategy to Strengthen Your Care Team’s “Empathy” Competency and Enhance the Nurse Patient Relationship
Communicating with empathy is key to building an effective and heartwarming nurse patient relationship. After all, the hospital experience is emotionally charged for patients, as are many interactions between nurses and patients. The language of empathy can be strengthened with great benefit for patients, families, and caregivers alike. When nurses and other caregivers express their empathy, it eases patient anxiety and creates a supportive and healing environment in which caregivers can align with their caring mission. But empathic communication is not commonplace. Some caregivers are so task-oriented that their empathy does not come across. Others do not tend to speak the language of empathy. In both cases, while caregivers do care, patients and families don’t feel their empathy on the receiving end.
Complete Competency-Building Package for Your Nurses!
Wendy Leebov and Associates provides a complete year-long strategy to build caregivers’ empathy. Here are the components that combine to form a powerful behavior change strategy.
1. Eight Hours of Employee Training (two hours per quarter suggested)
|Quarter 1: |
Heart-to-Heart Communication and the Two Prerequisite Skills
- The model of Heart-to-Heart (not just task-oriented or “head-to-head”) communication
- Overview of the skills for communicating with heart
- Two skills prerequisite to communicating with empathy
- Presence (mindfulness)
- Quick connecting to the person so you can feel empathy
|Quarter 2: |
The Language of Empathy
- Heart-to-Heart Communication reviewed
- Subskills for speaking the language of empathy
- Acknowledging feelings
- Expressing empathy nonverbally
- Explaining positive intent and “for you”
- The blameless apology
- The gift of positive regard
|Quarter 3: |
Empathy in Coworker and Interdepartmental Relationships
- Wearing EMPATHY glasses with coworkers and other departments
- Confidence-building handoffs: Boosting coworkers and other departments
- How to address concerns directly with empathy
- How to hold hard conversations with empathy
|Quarter 4: |
Handling Complaints and Difficult-for-Me People with Empathy
- Heart-to-Heart Communication reviewed
- How to prevent and handle complaints with empathy
- The critical skill “The Caring Broken Record” -- for handling difficult situations with empathy, even when you need to hold your ground
2. Great handouts that include a content summary, applied examples and “Staff Reminder Cards” that prompt on-the-job skill use and habit-building.
3.Evaluation Tools: Tools supervisors can use with individual employees; simple method of surveying patients and families to find out their perceptions of skills used and their effects.
4. Sustainability Strategies: Training, Support and Tools for Managers and Supervisors
5. Human Resource Practices That Support Empathic Communication
- Briefings with nurse managers and supervisors: Each quarterly visit includes a one-hour briefing with everyone in supervisory jobs. After reviewing the skills of the quarter and addressing questions, the consultant walks through the homework/practice process and helps supervisors prepare to facilitate with their teams.
- Short once-a-week practice exercises for supervisors to lead with staff (e.g. meeting agendas, bulletin board contests, practice worksheets and more)
- Toolkit for hiring: Behavioral interviewing guide for screening nursing candidates on ”communicating empathy”
- Suggested language for building empathy into performance reviews and job descriptions
- For new employees: A booklet and coaching process for supervisors or star performers to use with new employees to strengthen their focus and skills related to empathic communication
“Our hospital had very caring and kind staff, but our patient satisfaction scores were low. It was clear the clinicians were empathetic, they just didn’t know how to communicate that empathy to the patient and their caregivers. Wendy came to our hospital and shared her empathy competency program with front line staff AND gave our managers the tools to continue reinforcing the skills that she taught. Within a month our patient satisfaction was through the roof! It’s amazing what healthcare employees can do when given the right tools for their jobs.”
Suzanne Snyder, PT, CPUM
Medical Necessity Compliance Manager
Carolinas Healthcare System - Carolinas Rehabilitation
Strategy#2: Soul-Full Work
Tap the Power of Personal Stories in Nurse Recognition and Renewal
Enhance the Nurse Patient Relationship and Help Your Nurses SAVOR Their Important Work!
The Process Includes--
- A stronger focus on the nurse patient relationship
- Bursts of positive energy within your nursing team
- Enhanced nurse satisfaction, retention and recruitment
- Process for ongoing nurse renewal
- Workshops to engage nurses (or care teams) in:
- Richly writing their stories of Soul-Full Work (times when they felt most gratified in their work—when they really made a difference)
- Sharing stories with one another in a compelling, moving way
Performance: Select stories and create a play. Nurses share their stories in a wonderful performance for employees, leadership retreats, board events, and/or Nurses WeekPlan and prepare: Prepare a squad of in-house people to facilitate periodic story-sharing as an ongoing nurse renewal and recognition processPlease
to discuss long-term strategies tailored to your care team.
- Recruitment brochure: “Come to _____ and Pursue Your Soul Purpose!”
- A periodic magazine full of these “contribution stories” for all staff
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