Hospital nurses adopt personalized care policy

The "Personalized Patient Care" model is an approach to the delivery of patient care adopted by nurses at University Hospitals. The new policy was developed as a way to identify the many variations in the preferences and expectations of individual patients and to implement an individualized care strategy to meet these expectations.

The nursing and therapy staff noted that often the demonstration of caring behaviors was overlooked in their focused approach to patient care, which traditionally is structured around pathways, protocols and procedures.

Nurses and therapists assumed that patients knew care was delivered with concern for them as an individual. However, after continued review of issues relative to patient satisfaction, the staff came to realize that patients need to see consistent and direct performance of "caring" behaviors. To accomplish this, the staff recently adopted the care model. The five basic behaviors included are:

  • Introducing oneself and explaining one's role in the patient's care for the day;
  • Calling the patient by his or her preferred name;
  •  Sitting with the patient for at least five minutes per shift to discuss the day's care and milestones to cross;
  • Using touch, such as a handshake or touch on the arm, and exhibiting a behavior unique to one's own personality and approach; and,
  • Most important, demonstrating commitment to the care and improvement of the patient's life.

"Every patient expects to be treated as an individual with unique needs and desires," said Becky McCulley, associate vice president and chief nurse executive for the hospital. "In the five minutes the nurse or therapist sits down with their patient, the patient can be updated about any physician order changes as they participate in developing the plan of care for the shift, answer questions, listen, smile, touch. They ask if there is anything else the nursing staff can do for them, making sure that the patient and family know that we will make time for them. The caregiver communicates the information gathered during this exchange at shift change with their report of the patient's condition.

"Imagine that your own loved one is in a one of our hospital beds, and treat your patient as you would want your family treated," she said.

For those moments when caring behaviors are not enough, a strong service recovery approach is also important. Using the HEART approach, those who provide patient care use the same techniques as anyone in customer service: When someone has a concern: Hear them out. Empathize. Apologize. Reassure and Take responsibility for action.