DaVita® Medical Insights

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Building Relationships with Care Partners

February is Care Partner Appreciation Month and the perfect time to celebrate indispensable care partners and reflect on how clinicians can build strong relationships with them.

We all have someone in our lives who provides us support, encouragement, motivation and simply a shoulder to lean on. A care partner embodies these characteristics in order to help a loved one maintain their quality of life and manage their health issues. Care partners are critical to maximizing both patients’ and clinics’ success with home modalities.

Communication with Care Partners

Strong and effective communication is the foundation of any relationship, and it is necessary between the patient, care partner and clinical team. We recognize that while home dialysis has many potential benefits, there are also many challenges to navigate; and a foundation of strong communication helps contribute to success.

One aspect of effective communication is meeting the patient and care partner where they are so they see that we are here to provide support and assistance. We should also inquire about the type of communication our patient and care partner prefer in order to meet their needs.

It is important that communication is free of judgement and bias to help them feel more secure to share information to meet treatment goals. Active listening skills and empathetic engagement are helpful skills to use during interactions.

The ability to be successful requires having all the pieces of the puzzle: Imagine if we tried to trouble-shoot a problem and were missing a critical piece of information. We might be unable to find an appropriate solution, and not building strong relationships with care partners would be like trying to solve the problem without all the pieces. We can also enhance these relationships by leveraging our interdisciplinary team, including our physicians, dietitians and social workers to provide a multi-touch point approach.

Respect for Care Partners

One of the greatest gifts we can provide care partners is the feeling of value. As we develop relationships, our empathy and communication with the care partner and the patient can help us relate to them when we cannot truly know what they are feeling and thinking during their journeys.

It is important to model this empathy and expression of value with care partners and encourage our patients to do the same. Through this, we can learn what value is to care partners and use that as a guide for successful relationships. By demonstrating respect for both patient and care partner consistently we showcase value. We recognize our empathetic skills empower us to relate to the patient and care partner, while also understanding we cannot truly know how they are feeling and thinking in the various situations they encounter.

We are all familiar with the golden rule; however, it’s important that we keep it in mind as we build relationships with our care partners. This behavior offers us the opportunity to not only extend to them our respect, but to also consider how they want to be treated within the roles they play for our patients. Being mindful of our treatment of these important players can help us strengthen the connection. Approaching our care partner relationships with this small revision to a timeless rule can help us strengthen the connection.

Care Partners and Dialysis

Understanding a strong partnership is built through a series of interactions and moments, our goal is to empower both our care partners and our patients to work well together and with our interdisciplinary teams. The journey allows us to enhance our skills consistently and be of service to our patients and care partners every step of the way.

The diversity of our home programs is one of our attributes and within each of these clinics are patients, care partners, and teammates embodying the same diversities. The ability to practice appreciation on a daily basis is a gift we provide to our patients and care partner, as well as, each other.

Amy Potter, LMSW, MSW

Amy Potter, LMSW, MSW

Amy Potter, LMSW, MSW, began with DaVita as a social worker in August 2006 and transitioned to the MiraMonte Divisional Lead Social Worker in 2012. Amy‘s involvement with home dialysis on a national level began as the Home Social Worker Champion serving on the DaVita Social Worker Council in March 2015. Amy has taken care of home dialysis patients throughout her entire tenure with DaVita and the love of home grew over the years because of the patients. The ability to talk to patients and families about the moments home has given them has provided ongoing fulfillment and inspiration. These moments were the motivator in wanting to serve home patients and operations at a higher level and led her to her current role as the MiraMonte Home Divisional Lead. Amy truly has passion for supporting home patients and care partners.