A Practical System for Total Culture Transformation

What is Relationship-Based Care?

Relationship Based Care (RBC) is a culture transformation model that improves safety, quality, patient satisfaction, and staff satisfaction by improving every relationship within an organization. In an RBC culture, clinicians get reconnected with the purpose and meaning of their work, teamwork is based on deep commitment rather than surface compliance, and patients and their families feel safe and cared for as clinicians allow themselves to make authentic human connections with the people in their care. The success of RBC can be implemented, managed, and measured by CNO’s, C-Suite executives, and the entire staff.

RBC Improves 3 Critical Relationships:

1. The relationship between caregivers and the patients and families they serve.

In RBC, the caregiver-patient/family relationship is one in which the caregiver consistently maintains the patient and family as his or her central focus. In an RBC culture, no caregiver activity is ultimately independent of this relationship, and the definition of caregiver is broad. For example, caregivers from environmental services change their focus from maintenance of a physical environment to providing the most comfortable surroundings possible for people who are suffering. When we change how we see the meaning and purpose of our work, our work changes.

2. The caregiver’s relationship with self.

This relationship is nurtured by self-knowing and self-care. Without a clear understanding of one’s self, a person’s emotional reactions may adversely affect their capacity for caregiving and teamwork. The relationship with self is fundamental to maintaining each individual’s optimum health, to having empathy for the experience of others, and to being a productive member of the organization.

3. The relationship among members of the health care team.

The delivery of compassionate quality care requires a commitment by all members of the organization within all clinical disciplines to accept responsibility for establishing and maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships. Quality care occurs in environments where the standard among members of the health care team is to respect and affirm each other’s unique scope of practice and contribution. Interestingly, we have found that a culture of committed teams—a culture in which people are deeply committed rather than simply compliant—patients and their families are far more likely to commit to their own care rather than merely comply (or fail to comply) with their plans of care.

The Relationship-Based Care model is designed to assist leaders within organizations to strengthen or transform these three critical relationships to achieve the quality, financial, and organizational outcomes they desire.


Jayne Felgen, President Emeritus of Creative Health Care Management, discusses the significance of Relationship-Based Care for today’s health care organizations.

nurse with baby

How Do You Implement Relationship-Based Care?

As a CNO or C-Suite executive, you are very aware of how much impact relationships have on the future of your organization. If relationships are weak within your organization, your culture (and your outcomes!) will reflect that weakness. But how do you implement a program like RBC? Chances are you’ve tried other initiatives that have promised similar outcomes, but you experienced mixed results in getting the initiative to take root within your organization. How is Relationship-Based Care different, and what practical measures can you take that will allow this program to succeed in taking hold where others have not?

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The Transformational Power of RBC: What Will it Achieve?

For any organization-wide initiative to work, you need to inspire and empower the front-line staff. RBC creates an atmosphere where staff members treat themselves, each other, and those in their care with kindness, compassion, and respect. Through RBC you can achieve, “best of the best” status, improved clinical and financial outcomes, higher employee satisfaction, better working environments, and a variety of national awards and recognitions. One hundred percent of the organizations we’ve worked with to prepare for Magnet Recognition® or redesignation have been successful.

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Establishing a Therapeutic Relationship

Care happens when one human being connects with another. In order for healing to be maximized, patients and their loved ones must feel safe and cared for. This is only possible when caregivers are encouraged to forge authentic human relationships with those in their care.

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Engage Your Leadership Team

For information about the Relationship-Based Care Leader Practicum, click here.