Communication is a necessary skill to have in the nursing profession. We use communication to exchange information between patients, co-workers and all the people around us (Kozier et Erb 2004). No matter the form of communication we are constantly presenting and interpreting people’s ideas and thoughts. Communication is a method we utilize to connect the gap between knowledge and comprehension (Kozier et Erb 2004).This paper will discuss an observation of the personal care home environment, modes of communication such as; verbal and non-verbal, effective communication methods and barriers to communications.
Observation Of Personal Care Home Environment.
I visited an urban personal care home in the inner city. I will be identifying this personal care home as PCH “X”. I walked into the facility and it was very clean and spacious. I conducted my observation during lunch time in the dining room. This area was poorly lit and the temperature was very humid. There was also music playing in the background during mealtime. This personal care facility was very respectful, kind and caring to the residents in their care. The communication I observed in general was very clear and concise.
Verbal and non-verbal communication.
Verbal communication is a mode of communication that uses both written and spoken words (Kozier et Erb 2004). Here is an example of verbal communication: At PCH “X”, a nurse was giving medication to a resident and he introduced himself. The resident did not respond to the nurse so the nurse approached him in a different manner. He crouched down to the resident’s level and spoke to him again in a calm voice and lightly touched his shoulder. The resident later complied with his directions to take his medication. The nurse took a different approach with his verbal communication by speaking softly. Verbal communication is largely used due to the fact that people usually chose the words they use (Kozier et Erb 2004).
Another mode of communication is non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication involves other forms of communication such as gestures, facial expressions, and touch (Kozier et Erb 2004, page 423). Most people who use verbal communication use various forms of non-verbal communication simultaneously. The nurse in the example above used non-verbal communication, when he crouched down to the resident’s level and lightly touched his shoulder. This second example involves non-verbal communication: A Health Care Aide was about to assist a resident with lunch. The resident was not aware of his environment and had difficulty feeding himself. The Health Care Aide asked the resident to open his mouth but he did not respond. As a result, the Health Care Aide opened his own mouth and the resident mimicked him and they were able to continue feeding.
Effective communication methods.
Effective communication is a very important aspect in a nursing career. Here is a summary of some effective communication strategies that I have observed at PCH “X”:
*Health care workers appeared to be neat and tidy wearing uniforms. This will convey a non-verbal communication method of professionalism. Clothing and apparel can be a source of information about a person (Kozier et Erb 2004).
*A staff member asked a resident how their lunch tasted. The staff member paraphrased what the client was saying and reinstated the resident’s feelings. This showed the resident that the staff member was actively listening (Kozier et Erb 2004).
*Health care workers seemed interested in what clients had to say and differentiated the real from unreal (Kozier et Erb 2004). Health care workers talked to residents about daily activities. One client stated “I have to go to work; my daughter will be picking me up soon”. The nurse responded “your daughter will be here to visit but you are retired and you do not have to work anymore.”
These are a few effective communication strategies I have witnessed at PCH “X”. Communication promotes understanding and can build a constructive relationship with clients and co-workers. As nurses we must be aware of what we say and how we act towards others.
Barriers to communication.
It is critical to be aware of the good communication methods as well as the bad communications methods. This particular personal care home was very respectful to clients. However, here are some barriers to communication I observed when I was at PCH “X”:
*One resident had a language deficit and had difficulty speaking. The resident was calling out and it seemed as though she wanted something. It was difficult for the staff member to understand what she was saying. He overcame this barrier by asking her yes and no questions until he finally solved what she was trying to say.
*Residents were being talked to like children. The clients were often referred to as “dear, sweetheart, or darling”. During lunch, I also overhead someone saying “we have to change you diaper you made a pooh-pooh”. This may demean a client however; this communication barrier can be resolved by calling residents by their name and by respecting their dignity as a person.
*Residents can also be hard of hearing. A nurse was talking to a resident with his back turned asking him questions and he did not reply back. She continued to speak louder and the resident later asked why she was yelling. The nurse should have faced the client while speaking to him so he could realize that he was being spoken to.
Nurses need to recognize the barriers to effective communication. Barriers make communication become non-therapeutic. Non-therapeutic strategies to communication can be detrimental to a healing relationship.
In conclusion, communication is extremely important especially to a nurse. To properly assess clients’ needs we must be able to communicate with them verbally and non-verbally. If we can identify the barriers to communication we can find effective strategies to resolve them. We have to be clear when we communicate to our patients. A misinterpretation of instructions, plans, and vital information can be harmful to a client’s health and well being. Caring and comforting is an important aspect of nursing and that can only be demonstrated through effective communication techniques.
Kozier & Erb, Barbara, et al. Fundamentals of Nursing. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004.