What is C-I CARE?

Healthcare professionals have a duty to provide the best possible care to their patients. Therefore, they must ensure patient satisfaction with the quality of care they provide. To give the best possible care, nurses and healthcare providers should be able to build a therapeutic relationship with their clients. Communication plays a significant role in building a therapeutic relationship between the healthcare provider and the patient.

There are different types of care frameworks used to promote holistic and patient-oriented care, but today we will be discussing the CI-CARE framework and how it works.

What is C-I CARE?

C-I care is defined as a framework used to structure best practice communications and develop relationship-based care approaches with patients, families, and colleagues.

There are many healthcare challenges that healthcare providers go through on a daily basis due to the increasing numbers of communicable and non-communicable diseases, shortage in healthcare staffing, increased cost, and complex systems.

In our changing healthcare landscape, patient experience has become a key metric for quality outcomes, financial payment, and organizational growth. And most importantly, delivering compassionate communication and care is what we are here for, right?

How does it work?

C-I care is basically an acronym. Let’s discuss all components of this acronym one by one.

C: Connect with people by calling them their proper names.
I: Introduce yourself.
C: Communicate what you’re going to do and why.
A: Ask permission before every action.
R: Respond to patient questions or requests promptly.
E: Exit courteously and always with an explanation of what will come next.


Connect basically means, you need to build a great impression with your patients. Greet them, get to know how they are doing and if possible call them by their first name. You should always show respect and friendliness as often as you can.


Your introduction when meeting your patient for the first time is crucial in building a good professional relationship. Always introduce yourself by telling them your name, your role, how long your shift is and the plan of care.

For example:

“My name is Samantha, and I am your registered nurse. I will be here to assist you until 3 pm today. The plan for today is to make sure you are ready for your surgery later on this afternoon. Do not hesitate to push this call light whenever you need me.”


Communication plays a major role in promoting patient care and patient satisfaction. Therefore you it is important to avoid miscommunication.

Always explain what you’re going to do. For example, “I would like to insert an IV into your arm in order to administer medications that will be given through a vein. This will help you relieve your pain and discomfort more quickly.”


Being a nurse, we sometimes tend to forget that the client has a say in their care. It is important to seek the patient’s opinion and willingness to receive care and avoid cases of dissatisfaction with the care that you provide.

To avoid this from happening, always seek permission before entering your patient’s room, performing a procedure, examining the patient, and so forth.

For example, “I would like to examine your abdomen; may I do that?”

Remember, if the client does not want the procedure to be done at that moment/time, ask for a suitable time and schedule the procedure to the time given by the patient.


You need to respond to your patient promptly and positively. However, there may be times when you are unable to answer their questions due to lack of expertise or knowledge. In such cases, seek advice from the relevant expert to answer the questions for you.

For example, the patient may ask you, “my doctor has not yet visited me. When should I expect to see him? Has his visiting time has passed?” In this case, your response should be, “I am so sorry for the inconvenience; give me 15-20 minutes to check this out for you.” After you have confirmed, go back and resolve the patient’s query, by saying, “I have confirmed with the doctor’s resident, and he said that the doctor started the rounds late today, there was an emergency, but you should expect him in the next 30 minutes to 1 hour.”


After you end your shift, you need to close the loop by sharing the next steps with your clients. You also need to inform your patients who they will meet in the next shift.

For example, “Hello Ms. Jones, my shift has now ended. I hope you liked my services. Now, Shirley will be there with you till 11 pm, and she will come to introduce herself shortly. “

Be courteous and gentle when you are ending the interaction.

What is the role of leaders in promoting the C-I CARE framework?

C-I-CARE provides step-by-step prompts that help in communication practices and encourage a good relationship-based approach to care. While the ideas behind it may seem simple, these principles have been shown to maximize communication between patients and employees and to lead to increased patient satisfaction.

Leaders and managers have an essential responsibility to promote the C-I care framework’s application in the healthcare space.

Onboarding and training

When you are working as a manager of a department, it is your responsibility to train your subordinates on organizational goals of service excellence during the new staff’s orientation period. This will include the customer service frameworks that your organization uses and how they can apply them in their work life.

You can train them about the C-I CARE framework through a video-based learning module, a short course, etc. You can also give them small cue cards or badge cards that they can wear to help them remember whenever they forget. Placing the framework in form of charts on the unit’s notice board can also help in a significant way.

Active daily management

Conduct frequent audits to see how staff are applying C-I CARE in their care practices. Those who are compliant with this framework can be given some sort of reward or recognition to make them feel motivated and appreciated. For example, you can start a strategy like appointing “Employee of the Month” to the staff who excellently applied C-I-CARE in that month.

Supporting programs

Giving training on C-I CARE may not be enough. Therefore you need to organize ongoing refresher training sessions to retain this conceptual learning. Check whether employees need any further assistance or if they are facing difficulty applying C-I CARE, if so assist them with the challenges they might be facing.

Always provide constructive feedback to your staff to improve their performance at work.

To sum up, C-I CARE is a tool that helps staff and clinicians remember the steps to take in engaging positive communication in order to give excellent customer service and meet or exceed patient expectations. In addition, it helps in predicting the questions and concerns of patients and offers a framework for response. This framework also has the goal of emphasizing the patient’s perspective and involving them in health care decisions.

Employees should get continuous training for C-I-CARE that reinforces these principles and provides feedback on how to elevate customer experiences through group activities and role-playing. The management team should engage employees during rounds to ensure that C-I-CARE is being incorporated into daily interactions with patients.

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