Communication has many roles and functions. It helps people to inform people of your thoughts ideas and opinions and help them to understand them too. It also can be used to help people in an emotional and social way (making friends, socialising etc.). Communication can also be used to assess a patient’s condition, build a trusting a respectful relationships and motivate them. All of these will help the patient’s self-esteem and will help to reduce barriers between professional and service users
Types of communication
Communication I split up in to two main areas verbal and non-verbal. Verbal communication has a number of influences that need to be considered when dealing with communication in a Health a Social Care setting. Pitch, tone voice rate of delivery and the language used can all have a significant impact on the communication taking place. For example if I were to speak to an elderly patient in a care home in at a quick rate and with a sharp tone, this would probably perceive as rude or uncaring. This is said because the elderly person may feel like you have not got time to care for them. Good verbal communication will help contribute to providing a good service to health care users and help to ensure effective practice in health care settings such as hospitals, day care centres and homes for the elderly.
Non-verbal communication is all other forms and methods of communicating. It consist of things such eye contact, body language, hand gestures, proximity and posture. These different areas can again have a significant impact on the communication taking place. For example, someone who is speaking to a patient leaning forward or standing over them with a fixed gaze may be perceived a threatening or scary. If you were to stand at a good distance giving the patient space, stood with an open posture and made good eye contact, this may help the patient feel more comfortable. Care workers can learn a lot from the non-verbal communication that takes place. If they understand the messages they are sent they can help to meet the needs of the health care setting more efficiently.
People come from and vast array of cultures and backgrounds, they also have a different levels of understanding and knowledge. This is why it is important to recognise that people communicate in different ways and because of this they may respond better to different methods and ways of communicating. People may communicate in a way that is perceived rude or obnoxious but in reality this is just the way they speak. Recognising that people’s needs and preferences when communicating can help care workers to improve the quality of service they provide. For example in a hospital the nurse may say we need to do a ‘venesection’ this may confuse and worry the patient as they may not recognise what that is. The nurse could instead say we are going to ‘take blood’ to check out what going on inside. By replacing the technical Jargon with slang may help the patient to more quickly identify what is going on and feel more comfortable with the procedure that is about to take place.
Good practice when communicating with a client or professional in a health care setting is to understand the context of the communication taking place. The manner in which you deliver your communication should be influenced by the situation that you are in. For example when speaking to a professional care worker or manager you would speak in a formal way using appropriate and complex language. However, when speaking to an ill patient you may feel it is more appropriate to speak in a soft tone and use less formal language. Changing the way that you deliver the verbal communication that takes place reassures the participants taking part and shows them that you understand and can meet their needs.
It is also extremely important to listen when communicating. By listening and decoding the information being sent through verbal and non-verbal communication you will be in a better position support the people that you care for. A good idea when listening is to paraphrase or reflectively listen. This involves reiterating what has just been said but in a different way. For example in a GP surgery if a patient claims that his back is hurting a good response would be to say ‘I am sorry to hear you back is hurting hopefully we can make it better’. By reiterating the statement you are showing the client that you have heard them and understood their problem. This reassures them and makes them feel more confident in the service they are receiving.
The Role of effective communication and interpersonal skills
By meeting the needs of the communication taking place you will ensure that the service users are reassured, confident and happy with the service they receive. It will also contribute to a more efficient and effective health care setting as the service users will be happier with the treatments they receive. If poor communication are to take place then people are going to end up frustrated, confused and in worst case scenario offended. If service users are not happy or confident with the service they receive this will have a negative impact on health care setting as the reputation of the staff and setting will be reduced. In addition to this effective interpersonal skills will facilitate a better unity across the workplace. People who can communicate effectively and who can use demonstrate good levels of interpersonal skills will give be able to deliver a clearer and more refined message. Example: If a staff member is feeling frustrated they should not let this affect the quality of service they provide. It is unfair to mistreat someone if you’re in a bad mood. Effective interpersonal and communication skills would allow that person to understand this and help them to act appropriately.