In partnership with the Patient Voices Network’s Oversight & Advisory Committee and health care organizations across the province, we are encouraging providers to have “What matters to you?” conversations each and every day with the people they support or care for. Because patients are the true experts on their own needs and experiences, asking, listening and responding to what matters to patients is a key feature of person- and family-centred care.
International “What Matters to You?” Day is June 6!
From new, virtual health care services to the findings of the In Plain Sight report, the past year has provided many examples of why person- and family-centred care is so important.
Having conversations about what matters is a great way to build the trust and connections which form the foundation of person- and family-centred care. That’s why we’ve created new “What Matters to You?” resources to support communication while wearing personal protective equipment, and to help patients and health care providers have successful virtual appointments. Those materials – and many others are available to download and order now.
Stay tuned – we’re continually creating and adapting “What Matters to You?” resources to respond to current needs within the health care system and to support care providers to provide care that is culturally safe and free of prejudice and discrimination.
Share Your “What Matters to You?” Stories
We love telling stories about conversations which were started by asking, “What matters to you?”. How did you feel when you were asked what matters, or how did you change your approach after you learned what was important to a patient, family member or caregiver? We’d love to share your story – submit it here or share it on Twitter with the hashtag #WMTY.
Learn More About “What Matters to You?”
From a provider’s perspective, the question “What matters to you?” can be asked in many different ways. For example:
- “What are the things that are important to you at the moment?”
- “What are some of the things you would like to achieve as a result of our work together?”
- “What can I do to best support you in your care today?”
- “When you have a good day, what are the things that make it good?”
- “Is there anything else you want to tell me that I haven’t asked you about?”
- “What are your goals and wishes today and how can I help you achieve them?”
If you are a patient or caregiver, prepare for your health care visits by reflecting on what matters to you. Try putting distracting sounds and thoughts to the side for just a moment and focus on your breathing. Think about who you are and what you are facing right now, what is the most important thing that comes to mind that you wish your care team knew about you?
If you are a family member of a patient, what comes to mind that you want the care team to know about you and your loved one who is being cared for? For some people, bringing written notes to a health care appointment can be helpful. And remember, you don’t necessarily need to wait to be asked! Take the initiative to tell your health care provider what matters to you.
If you’re a provider, you might think that your patients already feel like they can speak with you honestly and directly about what they need. But some patients don’t feel safe speaking up in health care encounters. Here are some things to consider:
- Consider cultural differences. For instance, many Indigenous people have had negative experiences that impact their trust and confidence in the health care system. Seek to understand your patients by asking questions. Understanding your own personal biases (we all have them) as a provider and respecting differences in beliefs, practices and communication styles is an important part of understanding what matters to them.
- Make time for questions. At the end of a health care encounter, patients may be processing what you have told them, or feel like they are out of time. Take a few minutes to stop and ask, “Have I given you all the information you need?” or “Do you have any other questions for me?”
Often in conversations we don’t really listen to what is being said. “What Matters to You?” is about encouraging people to listen more deeply, in order to truly understand what is being communicated. “What Matters to You?” provides an opportunity to pause and think about how well we are listening to others.
Here are some ideas that can help improve our ability to listen:
- Take a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on the conversations you had.
- Did you spend more time listening or talking?
- Did you listen to understand, or were you waiting for your turn to speak?
- Listen with an open mind. In doing this, try to see from the other person’s point of view to understand what is important to them. Remember that listening involves more than your ears. Signals such as making eye contact, nodding, and leaning in can also demonstrate that you are paying attention.
- Relationships require both people to make an effort. Listen to others the way you want to be listened to.
- Repeat back what you have heard, to check that you understood what the other person meant to say. This is called “closed loop communication.”
- After you ask “What matters to you?” give the other person time to talk without interrupting. Try silently counting to 10 after they finish speaking before saying something, as they might just be pausing between thoughts.