Building relationships, even if it takes time
September 30, 2016
My story begins with my assignment to work with a couple who both struggle with complicated chronic health problems, many of which are in the hands of specialists.
At first, the husband did not want to speak to me as he was frustrated with the sheer number of calls they received from all their physicians’ offices. I decided to focus on his wife instead.
I tailored my calls to be light and brief but direct, highlighting my availability and how I could support them. Both were heavily involved in each other’s care, so I ended up communicating often with the husband about his wife. I was able to provide support for pharmacy and insurance issues, care coordination with specialists, and follow up plans outlined by their primary care doctor.
Over 6 months I persisted with these limited interactions but was able to follow through when they reached out and to provide consistent support. Now I am greeted totally differently! Just by being available and following through, their healthcare experience changed. They are enthusiastic about the nurse navigator program!
Our conversations are positive and we have developed great rapport. The husband is often the one to speak up and engages with me the most now. Their chronic health concerns are still a struggle, but I feel their outlook may be more hopeful due to the trust we have built. The husband recently identified a few items that I can research for him that will make their lives easier. I look forward to continue to provide this support.