VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
Relationship Based Care
Relationship-Based Care: A Journey of self, colleague and Veteran-centered care
2015 marked the beginning of Relationship-Based Care (RBC) at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS), and with it, an opportunity to transform the point-of-care experience for our Veterans, and their family members. RBC is a care delivery model and philosophy focused around improving 3 critical relationships: the caregiver’s relationship with self; the relationships amongst members of the caregiver team; and the relationship between caregivers and the Veterans and family members they serve. It is through the enhancement of these relationships that the RBC framework is able to aide in improving safety, quality, patient satisfaction and staff satisfaction.
The RBC model was developed by Creative Health Care Management (CHCM) with the Vision of “Transforming health care and strengthening results through Relationship-Based Care” (chcm.com 2015). Through our partnership with CHCM, VAAAHS will be offering many opportunities to inspire and educate staff members about the RBC process.
Perhaps the most impactful RBC tool is a 3-day seminar entitled “Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring” (RSC). RSC is used to inspire and reconnect us with our purpose for working in healthcare. It does this through different methods of learning such as storytelling, dialogue, and journaling, as well as teaching practical tools that can be applied in everyday situations. The first day of the seminar begins by allowing staff to explore and reflect on the importance of caring for oneself before you can care for others. The second half of day one introduces caring for colleagues as the second relationship that is fundamental for creating a thriving work environment. Day two works toward creating a therapeutic relationship with the Veterans and family members we serve. This day includes a panel of Veterans that attend and share stories so that we might deepen our understanding of what matters most to them. On the third day we bring all three of these relationships together to create a vision for what a better VA would look like. So far, feedback after attending a VA Ann Arbor RSC has included:
“This will make me better with my patients, using empathy and understanding, AND also helps me be fully present in their care.”
“Did not know what to expect, but was won over by the first day. Great way to reconnect with other co-workers! I highly recommend it.”
“This class allowed for time to self-reflect on material presented. By doing so, I was able to think of ways to bring the material back to my unit.”
In order for you to take what you’ve learned in the RSC seminar and apply it, we will also be partnering with departments throughout the Healthcare System to create Unit Practice Councils around shared governance strategies and RBC principles. Participating staff will be provided education on how to successfully run a practice council, including: managing meetings, identifying areas for improvement, and how to create sustainable change. The primary responsibility of the Unit Practice Council will be to implement the RBC principles at the department level. Staff members will be given authority to initiate change within their department based on the understanding that no one knows the work better than the people doing it. Staff that has been specially trained in RBC will be available at all times to assist the practice councils.
As a Planetree-certified facility with a Veteran-centered focus, RBC will afford VAAAHS the opportunity to build on and refine the relationships that are core to achieving the VA mission. Katherine Graham once said, “To love what you do and feel that it matters- how could anything be more fun?” Please join us as we explore this sentiment and journey toward actualizing a therapeutic culture of Relationship–Based Care.