This is a guest post from Providence Health Care, written by Jenika Hamilton.

On June 9, countries around the world highlight the importance of patient advocacy with the question, “What matters to you?” This initiative which started in Norway in 2014 has the goal of encouraging meaningful conversations between patients, residents, caregivers, families and their health care providers.

Providence Health Care is marking this occasion with the debut of a new project started in the Renal unit (6B) that asks patients receiving care, “What matters to you?”

Patients across the ward are filling out paper leaves detailing the priorities they have in their care, and the leaves hang on a tree outside the unit. It serves as an important reminder to all passing by that these conversations are a crucial part of health care.

“We wanted to create something that can celebrate everyone’s wishes, perspectives and diversities.” says Aki Tanaka, Clinical Nurse Educator in Nephrology and Urology inpatient and short stay.

This tree, made with real branches, serves as a reminder of the importance of conversations about care goals, and for all to approach these discussions with openness, humility and partnership.

From left to right: Betty Sung, Aki Tanaka, Sawyer Johnson, Ruby SanPedro, Maribel Robles and Angela Lee.

Additionally, laminated cards are at each bed to encourage conversations. Patients can write their goals for the stay which are then displayed in a prominent place to serve as a reminder to those involved in their care.

These laminated cards are in the inpatient wards on 6B.

PHC News asked Aki and the team why they chose to be involved in the What Matters to You Day initiative, and why they value this work:

“We have a renal quality and safety committee (RQSC) in the renal program and this initiative was introduced by Dr. Myriam Farah. What caught my heart is that profound human connection. This simple yet deep question can bring our patient and health care professionals closer. I feel we truly help our patients by asking, listening, doing what matters to them.

We don’t assume what matters to them or focus on tasks. It makes you feel you made a difference in someone’s life. Knowing what matters to our patients and family helps to build better relationship and partnership, which improve patients’ outcomes and boost health care professionals’ job satisfaction.”

We welcome you to join our annual celebration of “What Matters to You?” Day on June 9 and year-round. Use the #WMTY hashtag on social media to join the conversation and find more resources and information here.