A model for transforming practice, Relationship-Based Care (RBC) has helped nurses throughout NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) better connect with patients. At the heart of the RBC model is the profound notion that "the essence of care occurs in the instant when one human connects with another."

"This model helps the nurse focus on the relationship with the patient, with his or her colleagues and with their self," explained Sue Guilianelli, RN, MHA, Assistant Vice President of Nursing at NorthShore. Part of NorthShore's customer loyalty initiative, this practice model demands teamwork and collaboration supported by an infrastructure designed to promote clinical and emotional safety, as well as to empower patients and their families.

"It's about knowing your patients, your team members, and yourself and your limitations," Guilianelli said.

Nurses are accountable for planning, delivering or delegating, coordinating, evaluating and modifying the patient's care and effectively communicating that plan across shifts and settings of care to ensure continuity. RBC has positively affected clinical quality, as well as patient and staff satisfaction.

One of two sites in the country tapped to develop a Critical Care Family Assistance Program NorthShore embraced the opportunity to better serve the needs of families of critically ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Funded by The Chest Foundation, NorthShore developed "A Promise to Care," a 24/7 seamless system of support providing resources like hotel rooms, communication tools, private space for end-of-life conversations and family conferences, bereavement food trays and related support from social work, spiritual care and music therapy.

"This really spurred a cultural change about discussing end-of-life issues and supporting families through these challenges," said Jean Skelskey, RN, Patient Services Coordinator at NorthShore.

"A Promise to Care" has been so successful it has been expanded from the Evanston and Highland Park ICUs to the Comprehensive Cardiac Care Unit at NorthShore's Evanston Hospital. Plans are under way for further development at other NorthShore Hospitals. Compassion for others and a drive to heal compel many NorthShore nurses to give of themselves to those with the greatest need, wherever that may be.

Labor and Delivery nurse Peggy Ochoa,RN, has volunteered on nine medical mission trips to Honduras, Mexico and Ecuador where small teams of physicians and nurses provide gynecological
surgery and other women's healthcare that give enormous quality and even life-saving benefits to impoverished women.

"Sometimes we feel like we do so little, and the people are so incredibly grateful," Ochoa said. "There's such a lasting effect from these visits, for all of us."

Whether it is a group of Infant Special Care Unit (ISCU) nurses traveling to China or Hospital staff gathering uniforms and supplies for clinics in Nicaragua and Uganda, compassion is the common denominator.