What makes good communication so important?
You need to have excellent communication skills if you work in the communication in health and social care industry. If you are to perform your duties properly and minimize the risk of a medical error, you will need to be able to explain complicated processes to patients, empathize with their concerns, answer their questions sympathetically, and even diffuse emotional confrontations or help people calm down when they are stressed or angry.
People’s health can be improved by good communication
As the Institute for Healthcare Communication points out, good communication skills can also lead to better outcomes for your patients, because they’ll engage with their treatments and become more interested in managing the condition they are suffering from.
It might be as simple as persuading someone with heart disease to consider losing weight, or as complex as helping someone grappling with a medical problem find a solution that actually makes them feel safe and happy. It is important to remember that knowing how to talk to someone – and how to engage with them in a productive way – can drastically alter the patient’s experience and change their lives.
Communicating effectively saves money
Patients are not the only ones to consider. A healthcare professional must also be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and co-workers. A lack of communication skills can result in communication in health and social care practitioners ordering the wrong tests, prescribing the wrong medicines, or discharging patients who should have been kept overnight.
The Nursing Times, a leading healthcare publication in the UK, calculates the cost of these mistakes to be about £1 billion per year. Therefore, learning how to communicate with coworkers and colleagues should be a top priority for anyone who works in communication in health and social care.
In other words, how can you improve your communication skills and learn how to engage your coworkers and patients in a more productive way?
We’ll take a look at some ways to better your communication skills as well as some strategies you can use to avoid harm or improve your patient’s experience to help you get started.
Communication skills development
It’s not innate to be a good communicator. This is a learned skill, which you can improve by understanding a few basic principles.
To begin with, it’s important to understand the importance of clarity. Many patients find it hard to comprehend complex medical concepts. In other words, some of the words you use in your everyday activities could cause confusion to your patients. Therefore, you should always begin every encounter by assessing your patient/caregiver’s level of understanding, before trying to relate information in a way that they can understand.
It is important to ask your patients if they understand everything you are saying because this gives them a chance to ask for additional information and reduces the chance of misunderstandings. By asking if people understand what you’re telling them and offering to explain further, you show that you value the patient/carer and are willing to spend more time meeting their needs.
Especially if you are delegating a task or finding yourself on the other side of the conversation and don’t fully understand what’s being asked of you, this advice also applies to colleagues and coworkers. In order to have effective communication, we should ask questions and offer space for further discussion.
As well as listening, it is important to think about what your patients are trying to say. According to the Royal College of Nursing, it is important to show your patients (and coworkers) that you are truly listening to them by giving non-verbal cues, such as head-nodding, which builds rapport and facilitates communication. It will also be covered by many communication in health and social care courses.
Lastly, it is important to remain calm and collected at all times. It doesn’t matter whether patients (or coworkers) complain about the care you’ve given, or if they are aggressive or confrontational in their way of talking to you.
With further training, you will be able to improve these skills, which will help you to provide better care to your patients. Our course on communication in health and social care settings may be of interest to you if you work in such an environment and wish to improve your communication skills. By taking this course, you will be able to refine your approach to emotionally charged situations and become equipped to provide consistently outstanding care. Find out more here.