Teaching to fish: giving patients tools to put education into practice

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Teaching to fish: giving patients tools to put education into practice

< 1 minute read

St. Rose goes beyond teaching patients what to do by giving them the tools to get started.

The Issue

We tell our patients to do a lot of things, which can be very overwhelming. On top of that, many patients didn’t know where to begin. Our patients would tell us, “I know that I have to eat a heart healthy diet, but what does that mean? Is soup heart healthy?” or “I’m supposed to see a doctor, but how do I find a doctor to make an appointment?”


St. Rose is a non-profit hospital in Hayward, CA. It has 217 beds and serves a diverse, low-income population including Spanish, Hindi, and Tagalog speakers. Their transitions program began in 2012 and is influenced by Project RED.

What We Tried

We realized that we needed to provide tools or clear solutions to the problem whenever possible. For example, when dealing with issues like dietary restrictions, we created recipes for patients that would at least get them started on a lifestyle change. Rather than saying, “You should go see a doctor” we now ask whether they know how to make an appointment and whether they have insurance. If not, we provide them numbers to call or give them the phone number and guide them through a conversation with the doctor’s office. In a way, we are life coaches; we don’t solve their challenges for them, but we do provide tools to help them solve their challenges on their own.


With a tangible tool or solution in hand, the problem becomes much more manageable for our patients. They’re a lot more inclined to do what we tell them when they have a tool at hand. Our tools won’t do everything for them, but they provide a good starting point and sometimes that’s all patients need to give them the confidence to change.

Patient and Family Challenges: Empowering Patients

Topics: Patient engagement

Organizational Background

Organization Name: St. Rose Hospital

Location: St Rose Hospital, Calaroga Avenue, Hayward, CA, United States

Organization Type: Hospital