Experiment: Ask Your Client This One Question And See What Happens

The Washington Post wrote a great article on the simplicity of helping seniors get what they want out of their care – whether it is at home care or in the hospital – by asking one question. The doctors were overthinking the care plan. The client didn’t want to continue down the path of more tests, more appointments, more hospitalizations, more, more, more….but he almost did. The primary care doc nearly hit the ‘ER’ button, what else could he do for a frail older man who needed help? Sound familiar?

Except instead of repeating the cycle, the doctor asked the man: what are your goals for your care and how can we help? And that changed everything.

In our organization, we see this a lot. When our Life Care Managers (registered nurses) talk to our clients using a whole person approach, it’s amazing to see the relief in not only the client’s eyes but the family members’ as well – finally, someone who is willing to just listen to their goals and develop a plan to achieve them.  Sometimes our clients’ know what they want but they are used to listening to doctors prescribe and order more tests to try to fix their medical issues. But that isn’t always what they want, nor is it always what they need. Like this client, he didn’t want to fall anymore, that was it. He knew there wasn’t anything doctors could do to cure him of his other conditions and he just wanted to enjoy the remaining life he had left.

The client ended up dying just a few months later. The doctor struggled with this decision; did he do the right thing, could he have done more to save him? But that wasn’t the point. It wasn’t about the doctor – it was about the client’s goals. And because the doctor took the time to ask that one question it changed this man’s entire aging experience. His family is forever grateful – and coming back to him to answer that same question for their own lives.

It’s why at Lifesprk, we always start our conversations with every client by discovering first what is most important to them – about it is the only way to put the person at the very center of the care we are providing. Person-centric care starts with seeing the person and his or her needs and goals first.

Take Vern for example, he knew there was no cure for his dementia or heart conditions, he just wanted to go home to mow his own lawn. However, his doctors and other health providers told him that he couldn’t go home, that he required 24 hour care for the rest of his life. Then Lifesprk got involved. By understanding Vern’s goals and building a path toward it, his Lifesprk Life Care Manager secured his engagement in the plan. Through long-term life care management, she worked side-by-side with him to alleviate his medical issues and proactively build his independence. The end result: Vern was soon back on his lawn mower and lived for 4 years at home with no caregiving services or hospitalizations. Traditional home care just doesn’t go far enough – we need to go deeper to focus first on the person and his or her goals which builds the path to goals the client wants and can get behind to reduce cost long-term and improve health outcomes.

Experiment with us: What’s your experience with this question? Ask one of your clients what their goals are and how you can help her achieve those goals, then share with us how that changed the experience – for you, and your client. Ask On!