- Identify, document and share the patient’s communication needs.
- Identify, document and share any trusted people the patient wants to assist them with communication and / or decisions.
- Ensure patient has access to a reliable means of communicating at all times and prior to requesting informed consent to treatment.
- Allow support person to assist with communication and/or decision making when required.
- Engage a Speech language Pathologist if patient has no reliable way to communicate.
Communicating with a patient who has a communication disability:
- Learn how the patient communicates.
- Talk directly to the patient in a respectful manner. Do not “talk down” to the patient.
- Support persons or family members should help you communicate WITH the patient, not speak FOR the patient.
- Slow your talking slightly.
- Pause between your sentences to give the patient time to process what is said.
- Present one idea at a time.
- If your patient has difficulty understanding, use short sentences and give examples.
- Ask questions in different ways to check the patient is understanding.
- Show what you are talking about by using gestures, pointing to pictures, drawings and objects.
- Engage a Speech Language Pathologist if the patient has a complex communication disability or no obvious way of communicating; if you question the patient’s capacity to provide informed consent; if you see evidence of a conflict of interest, undue persuasion or coercion from support person(s) and in critical communication contexts such as medical assistance in dying.
Blackstone, Beukleman and Yorkston (2015) Patient-Provider Communication: Roles for Speech-Language Pathologists and other Health Care Professionals. www.pluralpublishing.com
Runtime: 1.38 min.
Focus: Colin Phillips on communication access within healthcare services
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Runtime: 4:38 mins
Focus: Steve Wells on communication barriers in a healthcare setting.