During a Crisis | Language of Caring

Person-Centered Care and Caring Communication, Now More Than Ever!

The COVID pandemic has been a powerful reminder that we live in a complex and unpredictable world.   Despite this, teams implementing Planetree and Language of Caring® around the world are coping, adapting, and managing in the face of these challenges. How do we know this? Because from the onset of the pandemic, they have been sharing the full range of their experiences with us – their struggles and their successes. The insights we have gained have been encouraging, enlightening and educational.

Here, in the spirit of community-building and shared learning, we present six important themes that have come to light. We hope these insights not only inspire, but also help you to chart a path forward for responding to any crisis that comes our way with compassion, humanity and partnership.

1. “Now, more than ever!”

When the pandemic first hit, some leaders believed they had to set aside their improvement initiatives because staff members were consumed by COVID challenges.  However, very quickly, people came to see person-centered care and caring communication is more important than ever — the very foundation and driver for responding effectively.  And they actively applied all that they had learned to make their care extraordinary.

2. A pre-existing culture of caring and person-centered care positions teams to deal with a shocking, sudden surprise.

In the wake of COVID, people in the Planetree International/Language of Caring community have told us that person-centered care and caring communication have been powerful drivers of experience redesign, innovation and communication.  These laid the groundwork for a QUICK response to the unforeseeable crisis.  Such successes have given staff confidence about facing harrowing surprise events in the future.

3. Even in challenging times, the essential role of family as members of the care team must be honored.

Even organizations with strong and long-standing foundations of supporting family presence and involvement found those commitments tested during the pandemic. Rules that limited family presence were implemented for the sake of patient, family and staff safety.  This presented a wrenching challenge that commanded considerable attention and creativity in order to achieve the delicate balance between safety, risk and compassion.

4. Caring for our staff is a quality imperative.

Airline stewards tell us, in the event of a crisis, put your oxygen mask on first before you attend to your kids.  They know that ultimately, your child’s well-being depends on your own.  Over and over again, our conversations have reinforced the pivotal importance of attending to staff needs to foster employee health, morale, teamwork and effective care.

5. Caring Communication Isn’t Just “Nice.” It’s Critical to Delivering Quality Care.

The events of this past year have underscored that a strong focus on foundational caring communication skills, especially during stressful times, is essential to positive and healing interactions with patients, their families and between care team members.

6. Leadership support provides a foundation of trust.

Inevitably, leadership is tested during a crisis.  It has been fascinating to hear perceptions from leaders and staff alike about the most critical actions taken by leaders to nurture a trusting and caring culture. Common elements include projecting honesty and confidence, communicating again and again (and again!), being decisive, yet adaptable, and staying positive.

The heart of the matter

The testimonials shared here evidence that person-centered care and caring communication have been vital to organizations’ abilities to withstand the intense strain placed on our healthcare systems by the pandemic. Indeed, compassion, partnership and caring communication have carried us through these tumultuous and uncertain times. Let them also propel us to a future where they become the norm in ALL healthcare interactions for ALL patients, family members and healthcare workers.

Click here to sign up for our upcoming webinar:
3 Steps Towards a Post-Pandemic Culture Reset

Thursday, April 1 at 11:00am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT-4 GMT)

In this webinar, we will share a 3-pronged approach for re-setting your organization’s culture, starting with:

  1. taking stock of the state of caring in your organization;
  2. prioritizing staff, leader and physician well-being and
  3. working to create a healthcare system that works for all by understanding and addressing the impact of biases and social determinants on patient experiences and outcomes.

Register today to hear more about three new offerings to tackle these challenges.

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