Hospital In-Patient Services

Audience: Doctors; Dentists; Therapists; Social Workers and other healthcare professionals
Runtime: 1.38 min.
Focus: Colin Phillips on communication access within healthcare services
Things to consider
  • Tell your healthcare provider if:
    • you have difficulty speaking
    • it is hard for you understand what people are saying
    • have trouble hearing
    • it is hard to think of words you want to say
    • it is hard to keep up with fast conversations
    • it is hard to remember things
    • if english is not your first language
    • You use glasses, hearing aid, communication board or device
    • need large print or plain language documents
    • need someone to assist you communicating
    • help with reading and understanding documents
    • help with completing forms
  • Take your communication access card with you and show it to receptionist and / or service provider (see resource below). If appropriate, ask that they make a copy and keep it in your medical file.
  • If you have time to plan your hospital visit, you may want to prepare vocabulary in your device or on a communication display. You may want to contact your speech language pathologist or AAC clinician to assist with this.
  • Check out some commercial vocabulary displays in the resources listed below. These displays are useful if you are lying in bed and may not be able to use your device. Also consider an alphabet board, pen and pad for writing, a boogie board and other non-electronic communication tools.
  • If you think you might require someone to assist you communicating in hospital, decide who this should be and inform your healthcare providers.  It is a good idea to have the person listed as your assistant in your medical file and on a notice over your bed.
  • Decide if you need someone to assist you with decisions relating to your healthcare and when giving consent to treatments.  Inform your healthcare providers that you want this person to be present at discussions but they you will make your own decisions.
  • If you have a substitute decision maker decisions will be deferred to them.  However, by law, they must consult with you and make decisions in your best interest.
  • If you do not have a way to communicate or someone to assist you communicating, ask the hospital to refer you to the speech-language pathologist.
  • Many patients with physical and communication disabilities want their personal support workers to provide services when in hospital.


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These suggestions should not be considered as legal advice, or appropriate for everyone.  CDAC is not liable for their use.