How to build rapport with health and social care service users

How to build rapport with health and social care service users
How to build rapport with health and social care service users

posted 16 Nov 22

When working in any health and social care role, including mental health, learning disabilities, neuro-disabilities and older people’s services, building rapport is essential. Involving service users when developing and evaluating support needs is crucial to wellbeing, and can help establish the delivery of additional concepts that may not otherwise have been considered.

We spoke to several Search Health and Social Care nurses and support workers to find out how they create a safe and meaningful space for service users to engage with their care and support delivery.

The importance of building up relationships

Agency Nurses and Support Workers are vital to ensuring services are appropriately staffed so care and support can be delivered safely. However, without the benefit of building a relationship over time with service users, it is essential that Locum Nurses and Support Workers can make a positive impact on their service users’ experience so being prepared and able to build quick rapport is essential.

Chris Casey, Associate Director at Search Health & Social Care

Ensuring that service users feel involved with their own care plan and inviting them to help shape it in a meaningful way will make a progressive relationship easier for everyone involved. Talking and working together with individuals has a lasting impact, and will help create an overall positive experience for all.

Building up rapport so it is possible to involve service users in this way is a fundamental part of working in Health and Social Care. When individuals are supported and communicated with, and asked to help direct the support they receive, many health and social care professionals find that their overall response to care improves. Service users gain confidence and feel like they have collaborated on the direction of their support, rather than being excluded from the conversation.

Communication creates collaboration

Being a health and social care professional demands good communication skills and a lot of patience. Creating an open patient dialogue is essential when it comes to working successfully with service users as a care provider, but building a trusted rapport goes much deeper than just a few exchanged words, as our Search mental health nurses and support workers explain.

1. Body language

Communication is the key, said one Search mental health nurse. You can use either verbal or non verbal communication to assess a patient’s needs.

Working with patients and making them feel reassured in difficult situations is more than knowing the right thing to say. Body language, including tone of voice and eye contact, has a big part to play. Being aware of these unconscious signals and controlling them, such as appropriate eye contact to encourage a patient without staring at them and making them feel uncomfortable, is all part of therapeutic communication in an unpredictable environment.

2. Listening

As one Search mental health nurse commented: “The passion for the job is paramount. Listening with a positive mind set for support, and recovery of service users, is at the top of my agenda.”

Mental health professionals are often very busy, so their time with each service user is not always as long as they’d ideally like it to be. Working on active listening skills, such as nodding and smiling encouragingly, to show patients that they have undivided attention is vital for building rapport and trust. It also provides the service user with an opportunity to voice any concerns, which is an essential part of any mental health treatment.

3. Show you care

“I introduce myself and I call them by the name they want to be called by. Pay attention, show you care.” said a Learning Disabilities Support Worker at Search.

Good body language control and listening skills, combined with user collaboration on mental health, Learning Disabilities and Older People’s services can provide a caring atmosphere for those that need it. A caring atmosphere breeds trust and helps users to access and understand their own feelings. Something as simple as calling a user by their preferred nickname, or following up with a query after a session, can be a huge step towards showing that you care and will prove to them that you have their best interests are at heart.

Building a rapport with mental health service users requires compassion and patience. Search Health and Social Care has a dedicated team that supports our workers with all aspects of the job, and can advise them on how to establish an emotional connection with service users. For example, we’re currently delivering, to many of the companies we supply, wellness packs for the nurses and support workers to use to help them build successful relationships. For us, it’s an essential part of being a mental health practitioner, and one we’ll help with in any way we can.

Chris Casey, Associate Director at Search Health & Social Care

If you’re interested in finding out more about Search Health and Social Care, perhaps to see what roles they have available, please get in touch.