Building a Trusting Relationship

Nursing is vastly different in its responsibilities to patients and their families than in decades past. Today’s nurses are asked to perform more tasks in less time. Still, connecting with the needs and suffering of their patients is a tenant of the healing relationship.

“Establishing a trusting relationship is very important,” said Ronnie Hall, HFHS CNO and Henry Ford Hospital COO. “In many ways, nurses are the keepers of quality for patients and their families. We establish this trust by being professional and actively listening to the patients and their family members.”

It is proven that verbalizing, listening and demonstrating true caring decreases patient suffering and increases healing. The HFHS Culture of Caring and AIDET +1 model offers guidance for nurses on how they can further connect with patients. They are encouraged to actively listen and use their own authentic voice to reach the patient and help reduce every type of suffering.

“When you listen to the issues your patient is having and then verbalize it back in professional and layman terms, it quickly builds a trusting relationship,” said Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital RN Aaron Smith. “Listening also helps you advocate for your patient when discussing the plan of care with attending physicians.”

This relationship then opens the door for a greater healing outcome.

“Relating to your patients lets them know you understand what they may be going through, sometimes even because you've had a similar experience” Aaron said. “When you can educate a patient about what they may feel during a procedure, how they need to change their diet or what they will likely feel post-op, it can build trust in minutes. In other circumstances, this level of trust could take a lifetime to develop.”

This connection, while enormously beneficial to the patient, can also enrich the professional life of a nurse. Caring individuals by nature, nurses can then infuse the situation with more of who they are on an organic level.

“This shift in awareness and participation with patients creates the opportunity for a very real human healing experience,” Hall said. “This is of the utmost importance to our patients, but it also positively impacts our nurses who can use more of their own personalities and relationship skills to decrease suffering.”