What matters

"As we ask, 'What matters to you?', asking it more equitably will be essential for developing systems of care capable of delivering on the promise of health equity."

"The truth is that simply asking, 'What matters to you?', builds trust, and this is therapeutic unto itself, and so it is fully within the bounds of a clinician’s endeavor. In other words, asking what matters — making a patient feel part of the process and prioritizing their thoughts, needs, and concerns — is part of the healing process." (Mate, IHI, 2022)

Healthcare Providers ASK what matters to you?

Patients & Families SHARE what matters to you.

Together DO what matters!

  • Start conversations about social challenges with patients
  • Explore ways to frame open-ended, non-judgmental questions
  • Create a team environment that listens with compassion
  • Work as a team that acknowledges and reduces bias and stigma
  • Celebrate diversity, inclusion and strengths
  • Focus on the patient’s agenda

Lacey, a nurse in primary care shares an example of how patient care was transformed when the primary care team listened to what mattered.

What matters to community?

Community Partners ASK what’s important to community

Members & Families SHARE what matters to you.

Together DO what matters!

  • Together, listen to community organizations, sectors, businesses, and citizens with lived experience
  • Amplify voices of the community especially those with financial strain
  • Enable a collaborative environment
  • Start conversations about social challenges, pain-points, and opportunities
  • Focus on the communities agenda and priorities.

Sherry (not her real name) is a 66-year-old female residing in a small town close to an urban center. She is married with no children. Sherry has been unemployed for the past year related to her depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She was a member of the armed forces and has worked as a counselor in the past. She is hoping to return to work soon; currently work opportunities are minimal and contract-based. Sherry does not have a car, which limits her employment opportunities as public transit to the urban areas is not available. A temporary contract may be offered to Sherry in March but will require relocation to Quebec.

Sherry has a tumultuous relationship with her husband of 10 years. He pays the rent and Sherry’s CCP is just enough to cover other basic expenses (food, meds, and transportation). Sherry is concerned that if she separates from her husband, related to the stress in their relationship, she may need to move from her current residence of 10 years. Sherry has three dogs, she considers her children. She is unaware of any affordable housing that will support her dogs.

Sherry’s husband has a history of mental illness which may jeopardize her mental and emotional safety. Sherry feels trapped in her unhealthy relationship; she states she stays as it provides financial stability. She is struggling to make life changes related to the inability to access affordable housing and the potential loss of her dogs. Uncertainty of increased financial strain has decreased her ability to care for her own mental health as she attempts to re-enter employment.

Her primary care team plans to:

· Connect her with Alberta Supports to see if she would qualify for the rent supplement program, if she is estranged from her spouse.

· Provide local community support for the application of emergency funding in case she finds self without housing or being able to pay rent while transitioning.

How can the health system and community best assist Sherry?

How might we support people like Sherry to continue living with their four-legged family members?

How might Sherry’s health be impacted?

Dig deeper

  1. Barry MJ, Edgman-Levitan S. Shared Decision Making — The Pinnacle of Patient-Centered Care. N Engl J Med. 2012;366(9):780-781. doi:10.1056/NEJMp1109283
  2. Mate K. (2022) Why Asking “What Matters To You?” Matters. Institute for Healthcare Improvement. http://www.ihi.org/communities/blogs/why-asking-what-matters-to-you-matters-kedar-mate.

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