The learner will:
1. Be able to address the range of communication requirements in own role
1.1 Review the range of groups and individuals whose communication needs must be met within own job role
1.2 Explain how to support effective communication within own job role
1.3 Analyse the barriers and challenges to communication within own job role
1.4 Implement a strategy to overcome communication barriers
1.5 Use different means of communication to meet different needs
Effective communication is the key to building positive relationships for a patient within a healthcare environment. Within my own job role as a Trainee Assistant Practitioner (TAP), I have a responsibility of communicating effectively with first and foremost, the individual patient. Within my job setting there are a number of patients whose communication needs must be addressed in order to build a positive relationship. Examples of these needs are: Patients suffering from Dementia – ‘The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language.’ (http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=106)
This could create a barrier for effective communication as this could lead to the individuals confusion to who I am, why I am there and difficulty understanding information that I portray (specifically within my own job role as a TAP, as this position is relatively new role and many individuals are unsure of what my roles and responsibilities are). To minimise the barriers and challenges that I face with communicating with individuals with Dementia, there are a number of different strategies I follow to achieve this:
Non-verbal – Making sure I maintain appropriate eye contact with the patient and that I am placed at the same level as what they are i.e. sitting beside them, not standing beside them as this could present as intimidating Verbal – Speaking in a clear and slow manner, but not in a way that could be observed as patronising Rephrasing questions and information to ensure the patient has and understanding of what I’m trying to portray.
Patients with sensory disabilities
Sensory disability is when one of your senses; sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste and spatial awareness, has either never materialised from birth or has decreased with time. One of the main sensory disabilities I see in practice is of hearing. Hearing loss can range from an individual who is profoundly deaf to someone who is hard of hearing. There are a number of different techniques I could implement in order to support effective communication. For example, I have a qualification in Level One BSL (British Sign Language).
I can implement my knowledge and experience of using sign language to positively communicate with patients who are deaf. The barriers and challenges I would face whilst practicing sign language are that I am not fluent in this method of communication. To overcome these barriers and challenges, I could use alternative means and methods to communicate with a patient such as writing, pictures, other hand gestures and facial expressions to describe what I want to articulate.
Whilst focusing directly on the patient and their communication needs, I also need to ensure that I communicate with individuals who are involved with and specific to the patients care, both personally and professionally. For example: Next of Kin, other relatives, advocates, neighbours, friends, Spiritual leaders, District Nurses, G.P’s, Healthcare Assistants, Palliative Care Nurses, Tissue Viability Nurses and Hospices. I endeavour to support effective communication with all individuals and agencies via a wide range of different techniques such as:
Planning how I will communicate
Use appropriate language specific to the individuals needs and understanding Listening and allowing adequate time for response and questions Check that the individual understands the message you are portraying Accurately record information specific to the individual
Due to the wide range of groups and individuals that I must communicate with, I need to ensure that all information, advice and support I convey is clear and concise in order to promote and gain a positive healthcare relationship.
2. Be able to improve communication systems and practices that support positive outcomes for individuals
2.1 Monitor the effectiveness of communication systems and practices 2.2 Evaluate the effectiveness of existing communication systems in place 2.3 Propose improvements to communication systems and practices to address any shortcomings
Within my area of work, we have a number of different communication systems in place to enhance inter-professional working. These include: SystmOne – this is an interactive clinical computer system that is used by health and social care professionals in the primary care setting to which I am based. It is primarily used to share and access records, with the patient’s consent, enabling all agencies to document any communication and care given to the patient. As all health and social care professionals have access to this programme, it proves an active form of members communicating effectively with each other. Tough books – These are interactive, security protected devices that can be taken into patients homes to access patient information if required. These devices have SystmOne installed on to them for quick access to patients notes. The effectiveness of these devices are seen as a huge benefit to both patient and clinician that will help to improve care-making decisions, allow staff to provide up-to-date records and reduce time spent on administration – so allowing more time for direct patient care.
Unfortunately, the current shortcomings that have been observed in practice are the poor connectivity rates to access SystmOne on the computer devices whilst out in patients homes. This can be extremely time consuming and lead to elevated stress levels on members of staff for the unavailability to access and record essential patient information. I believe this could be improved by increased communication via email and telephone conversations with the I.T department to inform them of the failings in these devices. Care plans in patients homes – this is a collection of information specific to the patient, their needs and care. Dependant on how often home visits are arranged, the care that has been received on that specific day is recorded on to an evaluation sheet of how the patients health needs are progressing/deteriorating. This enables different clinicians to work collaboratively in order observe, care and record appropriate information.
This can be effective, especially for temporary agency staff, emergency services, and care agencies who don’t have access to the interactive systems that employed clinical staff do. It should give relevant and up to date information regarding the patients care plan. However, this can prove less effective for clinicians employed within the setting I am based as they have to document the care they provided twice – both in the paper documentation and also onto SystmOne. I believe this communication system could be improved via a Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting and choosing the right method of documentation for patients and the clinicians involved in their care 2.4 Lead the implementation of revised communication systems and practices
As myself and a number of my fellow TAP’s haven’t received our SystmOne training as yet, it has hindered our learning experience due to being unable to access relevant documentation. I decided to lead the implementation of revised communication systems and correspond with our Clinical Education Lead. I corresponded with our Lead via email explaining our situation and also the I.T department and through this implementation, my colleagues and I have either completed this essential training or have been given specific training dates to complete this course.
3. Be able to improve communication systems to support partnership working 3.1 Use communication systems to promote partnership working – SEE 2.4 3.2 Compare the effectiveness of different communications systems for partnership working – SEE 2.1 AND 2.2 3.3 Propose improvements to communication systems for partnership working SEE 2.3
4. Be able to use systems for effective information management
4.1 Explain legal and ethical tensions between maintaining confidentiality and sharing information
4.2 Analyse the essential features of information sharing agreements
Dr Daniel Harwood and Dr Yvonne McCulloch. (2013). What is Dementia. Available: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=106. Last accessed 26th September 2014.
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