When health care providers have a conversation about what really matters to the patients they care for, it helps them to build trust, develop empathy and understand them.  When patients are invited into a conversation that uncovers what’s important to them, the care they receive becomes aligned with their preferences, as well as more person and family centred.

Eve Sheftel is 90 years old and has experienced healthcare in many ways over the course of her life. I had a conversation with Eve to understand why this initiative is so important to her.

Why is the ‘what matters to you’ initiative so​ important to your healthcare experiences?

We want to be seen! I have opinions and feelings and want to be treated like a human being. I feel lucky because I speak up for myself, but I worry that many older people like me don’t speak up. In my day we were told to just listen to the doctor and do as we were told.

What do you want your ​healthcare team members to know is important to you when accessing care?

It’s one thing to ask what matters, but listening to [the answer] is the key. It’s scary enough having to go to the doctor, but worse when you’re afraid they aren’t going to listen or acknowledge your concerns.

What matters to you now?​​

I want people to respect me and [respect] what I have done in my life. I don’t want to be dismissed as some ‘little old lady’, I still have so much to offer and want the opportunity to express myself and be heard. I don’t want to feel like a burden or inconvenience.

‘See me and hear me before you write me off.’

At one point during our conversation, Eve pulled a small laminated card out of her bag, on it said ‘The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand – We listen to reply.’

Ask what matters, listen to what matters, and do what matte​​​rs.

Learn more about the What Matters to You ​Day initiative in one of our recent PHC News articles.

Person and Family Centred Care