Transformation Through Relationship Based Care

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Angie McAllister
Director of Cultural Transformation, Signature HealthCare

Over the past ten years the term “culture change” has become increasingly popular. In fact, I would count it as one of the top ten buzz words being carelessly thrown around the healthcare sector in general today.  Everyone has a solution, a process, or a program to make it work “‘for you”. Ironically for an industry under fire in many ways, many cannot afford the high costs of consultants and idea generation to assist them on their journey of transformation. In response to the trending buzz around the concept, many have pushed it to the bottom of their lists due to increasing financial, operational and regulatory pressures. How do we underscore the importance of transforming the culture which many believe only exists in theoretical contexts?

In my experience, the only way to engage the healthcare industry in a deep transformative process is through the manifestation of relationships. Organizational transformation is no easy task for even the most confident pioneer. It can only be preceded by a relationship based care model that causes each person within the organization to look inward and then outward.  Both are critical and necessary to sustain transformation at all levels.

Relationship based care is not a new concept within the world in general. In many cultures, the influence of relationships drives concepts, systems and innovation that transform many societies in general.  Applying those same ideas and thoughts to a struggling healthcare industry only makes sense, right?

Let’s explore a few key concepts:

1)  Relationships are fundamental to growth.  It is almost impossible to have one without the other. When we truly care about someone, we want to see them be successful in their lives.  This concept translates from Elder to employees to families. Relationships breed growth internally within your organization. It’s important.

2) Relationships drive leadership.  True leaders know and understand the value of relationships to the overall culture of their organizations.  These relationships help leaders to develop and carry out a vision that will sustain the organization in the future.

3) Relationships are vital in times of change.  With the swift movement taking place around the world in the industry, the development of organizational trust is the heartbeat of the organization.  Organizations in which trust has been built through the strengthening of relationships are much more adaptable to necessary changes.  Trust is key to the transformation process.

4) Relationships spur innovation.  Because of trust and growth, all people within the organization have a voice in the direction they are moving toward.  Innovation must occur at all levels of the organization for transformation to occur.  Organizations moving swiftly with true person-directed care practices understand this concept and invite everyone’s voice to be heard.  Strong relationships help the organization to call upon the creativity of everyone within to solve problems, brainstorm solutions or give ideas.

Relationships take time. They are hard to create and even harder to maintain.  A true relationship based model of care engages everyone within the organization to help with the transformation process. Relationships require commitment on our part.  As leaders, we must be tenacious in identifying the weaker relationships around us, learning to face both inward and outward with transparency and be willing to trust others to lead us at times.  True transformation is bred through the quality of relationships we sustain.