The trick to motivation? Using personal goals over medical ones.

2 minute read

The trick to motivation? Using personal goals over medical ones.

< 1 minute read

St. Rose uses personal goals to motivate patients to stay healthy after discharge.

The Issue

Many of our patients are elderly and dealing with multiple chronic diseases, including the onset of dementia. In these situations it’s very hard to motivate them to take care of themselves because it’s a constant struggle. We needed to find other ways to motivate our patients beyond just telling them to change their habits.


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

During our conversations with patients, they naturally share things that they care about. These could be anything from their grandkids to their pets to just wanting to walk outside. We took these things and used them to motivate patients to take care of themselves. For example, we had a conversation with one patient who brought up her cat, how much she missed her, and that there was no one there to take care of her. Our patient advocate used the cat to motivate the patient to get better and keep up her health outside of the hospital. On our follow up calls after discharge, we continued to ask how her cat was doing and whether she had any trouble taking care of her cat. Anytime she needed motivation, we’d remind her that she was staying healthy to take care of her cat.


Using personal goals has helped our patient advocates motivate our patients and connect with them at a deeper level. The fact that we talk to them about more than just their medical condition shows that we genuinely care about their wellbeing.


We found that discovering patient’s goals comes naturally when you genuinely care about them. Our patient advocates don’t use a script or ask specifically about what motivates patients. Instead, they ask things like “What do you do when you’re home?” and “Who do you enjoy spending time with?” Once patients see that we’re interested in more than their charts, they open to us.

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