I have prepared this booklet in order to provide trainee nurses necessary and vital information about the role of effective communication in a hospital setting. There are many ways of communication with patients and as a qualified member of the health team I believe it is very important to understand the basics of communication within a hospital.
Forms of communication:
There are two forms of communication verbal and non-verbal.
Verbal: This type of communication consists of communication through speech, for example talking to patients. This is very important as it will make patients feel more comfortable knowing they have a professional to talk to, this also includes tone of speech to make patients feel as if they are in a safe environment. A patient might be more comfortable with the nurse or doctor verbally communicating with them as it would contribute in making them feel more secure around the professionals. Nurses and doctors might prefer this as it allows them to show the patients that they are listening and paying attention to them. This is also an easier way to communicate with the patients as it is easier to get a point or a message across, there is also drawbacks with this as along with verbal communication non-verbal communication is also necessary, for example if a nurse is speaking to a patient and not using eye contact the patient may feel ignored or neglected.
Non-verbal: This type of communication consists of facial expressions and body language. This is another important factor in communication, for example if you are talking to a patient and looking away at the same time they might feel as if you are not paying attention and they might feel ignored. Another non-verbal factor that is important is the use of eye contact as this shows that you are listening and understanding the patient, which might also contribute in allowing them to feel comfortable around you. Another example of a facial expression would be if a doctor has an annoyed look on their face a patient might be worried about communicating with them, for example if a patient needs to talk to a doctor, they might not have the courage to do that as they might feel like they will annoy the doctor even more. Body language would be another factor as the doctor might be sitting down looking tired, so their body might be slouched on a chair and a patient might feel as if the doctor will not be able to do their job properly or they might be worried about the amount of care they will receive as the doctor looks tired.
Types of interaction:
There are two types of interactions, formal and non-formal.
Formal: Formal interaction in the health department means strict rules, for example doctors are high professionals so when they carry out check-ups on patients this classes as a formal interaction.
Non-formal: Non-formal interactions count as when a nurse or a trainee is sent to do a check up on a patient, for example a nurse might be sent in to ask a patient what they would like to eat for dinner.
Contexts in which communication and/or interaction may occur in a hospital:
A context where communication may occur in a hospital is when a doctor is talking to a patient so the professional would be verbally communicating with the individual. Non-verbal communication can also occur in the hospital while a doctor is monitoring the patients as they will be watching the patients without communication, this could consist of monitoring blood pressure, heartbeat, etc. Context where interaction may take place in the hospital can be when a doctor or surgeon interacts with patients, for example a doctor does check-ups on the patients, however a non-formal interaction can also take place, this consists of a nurse or a trainee doing check-ups instead of a higher professional.
Methods of communication patients and colleagues may prefer to use
Methods of communication that may be preferred consist of emails, phone calls, texts, letters, voicemails and face time. A patient might prefer getting their results emailed to them instead of having a letter sent to them. Colleagues might prefer using phone calls to communicate with patients to update them on appointments and scans, this is because it is easier for patients and doctors as it saves the trouble of patients having to book an appointment just to receive their results. This also depends on the personal preference of the patient and what they would like and how they would like to be contacted for example people with physical disabilities might prefer getting a face time call to be updated on their results as they are unable to come into the hospital to receive their results. People with the disability of blindness will prefer the option of brail so that they are able to understand their results as they might not have any other option on how to receive them. Doctors have to ensure that the patients personal preferences are taken into account and they are contacted in a suitable way. Another way communication can be used is through flash cards, for example some patients might have a certain disability and with the use of flash cards they might be able to understand their diagnosis and prognosis, another way is sign language, people who are deaf would need the help of sign language from professional to allow them to understand the situation, diagnosis and their prognosis.
Why effective communication is essential:
Effective communication is essential and very important as this allows individuals to get their message across. Effective communication helps create a good relationship between a patient and a doctor or nurse, if the communication is not effective and is very bad both sides might feel as if the relationship between them is not good, for example if a patient is rude towards a doctor, the doctor might feel differently towards the patient and might not use effective communication as they might talk less or use informal communication such as sending a nurse to do check-ups on the patient, this implies that the communication between doctor and patient is not very good.
Another reason effective communication is essential is that a doctor needs to make sure that patients are treated in the right manner for example, if a patient is about to receive some negative news the doctor has to ensure that they deliver it in the right way by using effective communication, such as being understanding and calmly discussing options and next steps, as well as respecting them. A patient might feel a rush of emotions with sadness and anger being exposed making the patient react in a negative way but the doctor has to be understanding of the situation and stay calm using effective communication. Another factor in why effective communication is essential is because the patient needs to be able to understand their diagnosis and prognosis and what is going on with their body.
Argyle’s Communication Cycle:
Argyle’s communication cycle is a source of one to one communication. This works with an idea being occurred then coded in a way to be sent, for example the way it is said this could be informal or formal, then the message is heard and interpreted, by interpreted I mean in what way this message is taken in, for example has this message been taken in a rude way or a positive way? After being interpreted the message is then understood. A scenario where Argyle’s communication cycle would be used in the hospital is when a doctor and a patient are communicating. The patient would come up with an idea, which could be that they might be ill they would then send the message to the doctor by explaining their symptoms, this is then heard by the doctor and decoded, while the doctor interprets these symptoms and understanding it by finding a diagnosis and prognosis, which then moves onto the doctor communicating back to the patient with results. This communication cycle can be used in many other ways other than just between patients and doctors, this can be used between colleagues in the hospital as well as many other work places. As this is a one to one communication cycle it would not work in a group as it would be hard for the group of people to understand and interpret the message as there might be many opinions and the message and idea might be interpreted in more than one way. This cycle is a very positive approach, as it is a one to one cycle it allows the communicators to understand the situation clearly without any hassle, this is also an example of effective communication.