IHC Patient-Centered Communication Series

Workshop Overview

Healthcare team members across all specialties and roles face continual pressures and challenges ensuring optimal patient care and satisfaction. The health services literature contains substantial evidence that patients have better health outcomes when good interactions with staff encourage them to adhere to treatment plans and follow up with care. Patient satisfaction is significantly enhanced when staff members communicate effectively with patients.

From the patient’s perspective, every person employed by the healthcare organization contributes to the care experience. Research shows that the perceived competence of hospital staff and their demeanor toward patients have the most profound effect on patients’ satisfaction with care. (Andaleeb, 1998) A rich and growing literature supports the value of patient-centered care and a relationship of trust between team members and patients; in addition, clinicians are increasingly evaluated and compensated based on patient satisfaction. Please see IHC’s annotated bibliography for further information.

Treating Patients with C.A.R.E. has had a dramatic impact on the care of patients and their families in organizations across North America. Through the efforts of over 330 faculty, thousands of healthcare clinicians and support staff members have learned new skills to improve their communication with patients and families.

Many organizations are under-resourced and present systemic and cultural barriers to optimal communication. In addition, patients may be experiencing pain and anxiety, and may vent their frustrations on healthcare staff. Every employee has opportunities to make the patient’s experience productive and pleasant, even in challenging environments. The key to ensuring optimal patient-provider interactions is embodied in some straightforward communication skills.

This half-day workshop enhances individual clinicians’ and staff members’ abilities to communicate with patients—and with one another—in ways that promote health. IHC’s Treating Patients With C.A.R.E. workshop provides evidence-based skills to help the members of healthcare teams meet their patients’ needs and work together more effectively as teams.


Treating Patients With C.A.R.E. is open to clinicians and non-clinical support staff members and supervisors. Workshops can accommodate 8-24 learners to ensure individualized attention and optimal small group learning.


Treating Patients with C.A.R.E. provides a conceptual model and specific techniques that guide all staff members—anyone who comes in contact with patients– to communicate in ways that will enhance satisfaction and encourage patient partnership. Participants use their own experiences in health care to identify staff actions that make a difference.

The overall training goal for this workshop is to improve the verbal and non-verbal communication skills of staff in order to achieve impressive healthcare service and positively impact health outcomes for patients and their families. It is predicated on the notion that most staff members give good service, and advancing from good service to impressive service is achievable by all. Essential skills are organized into a four-point model:

  • Connect, through a personal connection to the patient and family
  • Appreciate the patient’s and family’s situation, assuring they feel heard and understood
  • Respond in ways that are helpful to the patient and family
  • Empower, inspiring patients’ confidence to contribute to their own health and health care

The workshop is a fast-paced interactive program that gives participants opportunities to practice skills and techniques, not simply hear about them. Participants view video encounters between staff and patients and work in small groups on skills that apply in a variety of realistic situations.


Learners are expected to participate in all large and small group exercises and discussions. This is a validated approach for adult learners, grounded in the research on cooperative learning and action learning. Learners consistently report high value hearing from their peers and sharing their experiences in this structured and safe environment.

To minimize distraction, IHC recommends that learners be freed from additional work-related tasks for the duration of the training.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this workshop participants will be able to:

  • Describe what is meant by C.A.R.E.
  • Discuss our organization’s healthcare service standards and how they relate to C.A.R.E., and
  • Describe ways for using C.A.R.E. on the job to deliver impressive healthcare service


This workshop consists of brief presentations, interactive exercises, videotaped case studies and skills practice to build learner awareness, knowledge, skills and confidence regarding communication. Case examples frame realistic issues involving patients and families. Experiential learning activities are key to the effectiveness of the workshop.

Exercises are graduated from personal experiences as a patient, through application of skills via videotaped case situations, to realistic application in structured and safe simulated exercises. All learners are encouraged and expected to participate fully in the exercises. At the end of the workshop, learners are asked to commit to implement two C.A.R.E. communication skills and then to evaluate the outcomes associated with these approaches.


The faculty members who teach Treating Patients with CARE have participated in a train-the-trainer program through IHC specific to this curriculum. Faculty are coached and supported by IHC Senior Trainers. IHC faculty members are also available to teach Treating Patients with CARE in organizations that do not have IHC-trained faculty on staff

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