Using Communication to Support Compassionate Care
When physical therapist Joel Larmore started RehabVisions in 1983, he built the company around six core values, the first of which is compassion. Years later, we still hold to those values by delivering positive therapy experiences that improve outcomes through compassionate care.
Part of how we can deliver patient-centered care is by building relationships and trust, and by expressing empathy. We can do this with our bodies using nonverbal communication:
- Make eye contact when a patient speaks or when responding to him/her
- Smile and use reaffirming facial expressions
- Warm, open posture on the patient’s level, body positioned facing the patient
- Listen, listen, listen
We also build rapport with verbal communication. “Hearing” what patients communicate, verbally or nonverbally, creates opportunities to respond to emotional cues:
- “You’re making amazing progress. I bet you’re feeling great about how far you’ve come.”
- “Let’s work together on this.”
- “I’m here to support you all the way.”
Thoughtful questions play a role in compassionate care as well. Understanding the patient’s viewpoint and learning their expectations, asking directly about their therapy goals and any concerns or worries that should be addressed, for example. Include clarifying questions and other open-ended questions that will help to sketch a more comprehensive understanding of the patient’s condition and personal experience.
Compassion is core to our business and to providing the best care for all our patients. We’d love to hear how you keep it at heart in your practice.