Everyone has different needs and styles in which they communicate. There are also many different ways in which we may establish these communication needs, wishes and preferences. A good way to begin to understand a patient’s needs, wishes and preferences is to read their notes and history’s to see if this contains any relevant information. For example, if I read that a patient has hearing problems, I would then know to make sure that I speak to the patient clearly and slowly and look at them so they can read my lips. Other ways to establish communication needs, wishes and preferences is by interacting with the patient and through conversation I learn how to best communicate with the patient. It is also important to remember to be clear and concise in all forms of communication, especially when working with people with learning disabilities, where they might get confused if I speak too quickly or use too complex language.
It may benefit, if this is the case, to use your body language to help explain what you are trying to say and to emphasise the tone of the conversation. Also, pictures can be used to help the patient and myself understand. For example, one of my patients uses cards that display what emotions they are feeling, they will use these to communicate how they are feeling. In the past, I have worked with a patient who is deaf. For me to establish what her needs were, I first spoke to the nurse in charge and they informed me she was deaf, however, could sign or write things down. As I could not sign, our preferred form of communication was writing, which after spending time together worked quite well.