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Asking “What Matters to You?” in Kidney Care

"What Matters to You?" in action at Royal Inland Hospital Kidney Clinic


International “What Matters to You?” Day is a chance for honest, open conversations between patients and care providers. At the kidney clinic at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital, Lianne Berst and her team are helping those conversations happen.

Last year, Lianne’s team created a poster that features an image of a tree; patients are invited to write what matters to them when receiving care on apple-shaped notes which they then stick to the tree.

The poster, created by Angela Busenius, a manager at the clinic, was an easy way to start the conversation with patients. A few examples of comments include:

  • “It is important to me to have my family at my visits.”
  • “I would like to not have to travel so much for my appointments.”

Lianne and the team are proactive about asking patients what matters so that they can ensure clear communication.

“When we teach patients about the different kidney treatment options, we have embedded the question, ‘What matters to you?’ into the discussion. We have purposefully placed it at the beginning of our session before we start to talk about their medical treatment options. It’s such an easy question and certainly has opened the door to some very honest conversations with our patients.”

Changes at the clinic as a result of COVID-19 have also provided examples of listening to what matters to patients.

“Prior to COVID our clinic philosophy has always been about including family and support persons in all aspects of our patients’ journey. We always encourage patients to bring [a] support person[s] with them to their appointments.”

This was challenged, however, when the clinic needed to restrict the number of support persons accompanying patients to just one person. But by pivoting to online appointments, as many support people as wanted by a patient could attend appointments, no matter where they live. As well, travel to the hospital was removed as a barrier and disruptions to previously scheduled appointments were avoided.

“The patients were thankful to still feel connected and supported by our team despite what was happening in the world, and that attending their appointments was not delayed.”

Read more about how to have conversations about what matters.


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