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

Health and Social Care Roles Require a Person-centred Approach to Develop Positive Relationships With Service Users.

Whether assisting people struggling with mental health issues, learning disabilities, neuro-disabilities, or old age, every health and social care worker should focus on building a rapport to provide the best care. Effective communication is also key, and you should aim to cultivate mutual respect with service users whilst still maintaining professional boundaries.

To answer the question of building rapport, we asked several Search health and social care nurses and support workers how they create a safe space for their service users.

Agency nurses and support workers are instrumental in ensuring services are properly staffed so care and support can be delivered safely. However, without the benefit of long-term relationships, locum nurses and support workers can make a positive impact on their service users’ experience by being able to build rapport quickly.

Chris Casey, Associate Director at Search Health & Social Care

The Importance of Building Relationships

One of the key elements for helping service users feel involved in their care plan is to invite them to shape it in a meaningful way; this garners trust and by working with each other, you can build an effective relationship and a positive experience.

When individuals are supported, communicated with, and asked to help design their support, many health and social care professionals find better responses to the care given - as a result, service users gain confidence and control in their development, rather than being excluded from the conversation.

Communication Creates Collaboration

As well as communication skills and a lot of patience, an open patient dialogue is essential when it comes to working with service users. However, 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, “and you can use verbal or non-verbal communication to assess a patient’s needs”.

As well as using the right words to provide reassurance in difficult situations, tone of voice, eye contact, and other aspects of body language play an important role. It’s a fine line, however, and you should be aware of unconscious signals and their effects; for example, appropriate eye contact helps encourage a service user, but holding it for too long can become uncomfortable.

Understanding body language and its role in the care you provide is all part of therapeutic communication and it can make an unpredictable environment less stressful.

  1. Listening

One Search mental health nurse told us that “passion for the job is paramount. Listening with a positive mindset 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 may be limited. Nodding and smiling to encourage responses are active listening techniques that show your patients that they have your attention, which helps to build rapport.

Active listening also leaves space for service users to share concerns which is an essential part of any mental health treatment.

  1. Show you care

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

Good body language control and listening skills help you achieve this, and you can provide a caring atmosphere for those who need it. A caring atmosphere breeds trust and helps users access and understand their own feelings and combining this with collaboration on mental health, learning disabilities and older people’s services is a recipe for success.

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 in the right direction and can prove to service users you have their best interests 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

Get in touch with Search

If you’re interested in finding out more about Search health and social care or finding opportunities in the industry, please get in touch.