Chapter 1: Building a relationship

Fostering trust

The palliative care experts says
Dr. Kelli Stajduhar explains the importance of being authentic with patients and families.(3:22)Video transcript

The key to a successful call is establishing an effective relationship with the patient and family. Your assessment will be accomplished more efficiently and thoroughly if building rapport and establishing trust is a priority. Many paramedics worry about how to talk with families, particularly in the intense moments of dying and death. During a palliative care call, time may be limited. Try to connect quickly and meaningfully with both patient and family.

Trust is the cornerstone of effective communication. To establish trust quickly:

  • Introduce yourself to everyone present and determine relationships to the patient.

  • Confirm that you’re there to work with them to ensure the patient receives the best quality of care.

  • Determine how much the patient and family know.

  • Ask how much they want to know about your interventions.

  • Assure them you’ll stay as long as the situation requires.
  • Remember to keep cultural considerations in mind. Ask the family if there are specific things you should know. 


Conversation Prompts

Set a constructive tone by simply asking:

How can we help you today?

Establish rapport with the patient or family members and get to important information efficiently by asking:

What do I need to know about you so I can give you the care you need?  

Determine family's preferences

Some families will be calmer and more collaborative if you explain your interventions. Others won't want to know. 

Conversation Prompts

Would you like to discuss what I’m doing? Its okay if you prefer not to.

Clarify what you understand.

Are you telling me you’d rather not discuss what I’m doing?

Explain interventions

Conversation Prompts

I'm going to give this medication now. My goal is to help him become more comfortable and less agitated. Do you have any questions?