Exceptional service: A team effort

Monday, August 11, 2014 - 3:33pm

By Margaret Angus

Staff on the Transitional Care Unit at the QEII are talking a lot about service these days. They’ve always been focused on providing excellent care to clients, but taking the START with Heart® upfront customer service program has brought this focus even more to the forefront.

Dianne Herbert: Taking the time to connect with clients and families
“The session really made me reflect,” says Dianne, a registered nurse.  “It’s easy to think, ‘We do this every day. This is nothing new.’ But when we’re on the floor and we’re in a rush, it’s easy to forget the impact of one smile or stopping for a minute to chat with a client.”

The importance of communicating clearly is especially important in Transitional Care, where many patients have dementia. In addition to communicating with clients, staff members are in frequent contact with loved ones. “Families really appreciate when you make that phone call,” says Dianne.

Rosalie Collier: Listening and communicating

Rosalie Collier, unit clerk, says she always makes a point of introducing herself to new clients and welcoming them to the unit. She also explains to clients and families how the unit works and what to expect. “I think it gives them a sense of security,” she says. Rosalie says since taking START with Heart®, she’s been more focused on active listening. “I take the time to really listen and repeat back what they’ve saying just to let them know someone is really listening.”

Madonna MacIntyre: Empathy first

Madonna has been a care team assistant for 25 years and knows the power of forming a positive, caring connection with clients. She recalls caring for one client who was shaking in her bed. “I sat down with her and introduced myself and told her a bit about me and explained what I was going to do,” she says. The woman immediately relaxed.

In spite of her extensive experience, Madonna, who has completed both the START with Heart® module and the followup Respond with HEART® service recovery module, says she learned something new. Previously, when a client or family member would share a frustration, Madonna would immediately jump to an apology. “I’m Catholic,” she laughs. “It’s what I do.” Now, she takes the time to hear the full story and empathizes before apologizing and responding. “It really makes a difference,” she says.

Lindi Barkhouse: Remembering the little things
Lindi, manager of the Transitional Care Unit, says she is exceptionally proud of her team for their openness to the program and their enthusiasm in applying the learning.

 “One of the reasons this team is embracing the START with Heart® program is because of the nature of working with patients who are vulnerable. This team understands the impact of non-verbal communication,” she says. “Programs like this one help us remember all of the little things.”