Healthcare

  • 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.

Resources:

Communication Supports in Capacity

Communication Supports Glossary

CDAC webinars on access to healthcare

Patient Provider Communication

Communication Toolkit

Commercial healthcare vocabulary displays

Blackstone, Beukleman and Yorkston (2015) Patient-Provider Communication: Roles for Speech-Language Pathologists and other Health Care Professionals. www.pluralpublishing.com

Audience: Doctors; Dentists; Therapists; Social Workers and other healthcare professionals
Runtime: 1.38 min.
Focus: Colin Phillips on communication access within healthcare services

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Audience: Professionals who work in hospitals, complex care facilities, nursing homes, clinics, home health services and hospices.
Runtime: 4:38 mins
Focus: Steve Wells on communication barriers in a healthcare setting.