You are a social worker who is part of a rehab team. During lunch, the conversation turns to one of the patients that you and your team is working with. The patient was in a scooter accident and suffered multiple fractures. They are struggling to regain their ability to walk and can often be heard expressing their frustration. Some around the table are concerned that the patient is giving up and that they seem to have “no hope for the future” – despite the expectation that they should be able to walk again. One of your team members turns to you and says, “You seem to have a good rapport with this patient, why don’t you talk to them about this?” This is not the first time you’ve received such a request, and you appreciate that your colleagues have recognized your skill at building rapport. But there is no extra time, or any other resources provided to you to acknowledge the contribution you are making. How will you respond to this request? And how might you raise this at the next team meeting?
You are 23 years old and you were in a collision while riding your scooter and are now in rehab recovering after multiple serious fractures. Rehab is a lot of effort and you aren’t experiencing the improvements you expected. Your friends have stopped coming by to visit and you feel lonely and isolated in the hospital. You know that the health care providers are trying their best, but you find it hard not to take your frustration out on them when they’re the only people you see most days. How will you respond the next time a team member encourages you to keep trying?
- How did your response to the case shift when you read about it from a different perspective?
- What do you see as the most important values for each person involved in the conversation?
- What are some of the values that might be in tension for the social worker in thinking through the situation?
- What types of support might make it easier for the social worker to take on the work of having difficult conversations?
- How do health care providers build the skills that help difficult conversations go well?
Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Ethics and professionalism toolkit. https://physiotherapy.ca/ethics-and-professionalism-toolkit
Forbes Coaches Council. 14 Ways To Approach Conflict And Difficult Conversations At Work https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2017/07/17/14-ways-to-approach-conflict-and-difficult-conversations-at-work/#698346ac3cfd
Woelk, C.J. 2008. Management of Hope. Can Fam Physician; 2008 Sep. 54(9): 1243-1245 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2553443/