HCA Communication Skills
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We at HCA & Carers Ireland acknowledge that we as Healthcare Assistants, sometimes forget about the ways in which we communicate, as err is to human, we live busy work lives in which involve non-stop care for those we care for. But do we lose important skills within the busy-iness?

“Clear and compassionate communication makes for better outcomes and a better experience for the people in our care”

 

Communication is vital in healthcare, healthcare is one of the most prominent areas of employment where you will find a variety of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures all together under the one roof to care for those in our society who are most vulnerable.  When you have such a large melting pot of difference, it is sometimes useful to remember that we all need to communicate clearly.

 

Communication has many elements.

These include:

  • Use of Words

  • Context of Words in Time (Mise én Scene)

  • Tone of Voice

  • Body Language (including use of hand symbols)

  • Language used

  • Complexity or jargon use

  • Professional language

  • Colloquial Language

  • Communication ability of Speaker/Listener

 

As we can see Communicating is more than just words, dependant on the many elements mentioned above the meaning of the conversation can change the course of one’s day.

 

Example 1 : Nurse Marigold needs a hand with restocking the clinical room on the Ward.
Nurse Marigold: Jonny (makes eye contact), Could you do me a favour? Could you go find some cotton Gauze please? We have run out in the clinical room, and we have a lot of dressings to change this evening. Thanks again Jonny.

 

As we can see the Nurse Marigold in this conversation with Jonny the HCA, is professional, calling her co-worker Jonny by his name, asking a reasonable request, using mannerly words and giving a rationale/reason for the request. But, if Marigold, was to shout the above quote, and use negative body language, would this result in better team work within this care team?

If Marigold, was even more short and just said, “Here you, Go find some cotton Gauze!”.

This as you can imagine would not go down very well with Jonny the HCA.

 

Example 2: Nadia is a tired HCA working in a Nursing Home, She has worked an additional day to cover for a sick fellow staff member. Nadia is finding the shift a bit harder to deal with.

Nadia (Shouting): Mr O’ Leary (a resident in the Nursing Home), Will you come on, for God sake I don’t have all day to be bringing you down to the day room, I’m too tired for this Malaka.

 

As we can see Nadia is possibly overworked, possibly understaffed and has become a little inpatient with an elderly resident who may be a bit slower on his feet. But Nadia has used a multitude of elements here. Nadia is not being professional, and is doing more harm than good in this situation.

  • Use of Words – Not professional

  • Context of Words in Time– Not correct language to use

  • Tone of Voice – No Resident should ever be shouted at.

  • Language used – The word Malaka is a Greek swear word.

  • Professional language – The word Malaka is not professional nor is Nadia’s approach

  • Colloquial Language – Many older Irish residents do not respect people taking their God’s name in vain.

  • Communication ability of Speaker/Listener – Nadia needs to adapt her communication

 

In Review, we can see that Nadia, maybe suffering from burnout, she may on a normal week, be a great caring HCA, but today after doing an additional shift, in which she may not have been able for, is effecting her professional judgement. If heard, found or noticed by other staff members, volunteers, other residents, family visitors or management, Nadia could see her employment status be questioned.

 

Everyone deserves clear, direct and respectful communication, which is professional but not overly colloquial.

Healthcare Workers

Communication With A Mask

We Know during Covid-19 {the pandemic] that communication is even harder in work, reading lips and a full facial feature often helps to understand the situation. When we wear masks, our nonverbal  communication is even more important than ever, our hands, eyes,

body movements are critical along with the words we use.

Our facial expressions tell a lot.

When we engage with people, we constantly send and receive nonverbal cues. Our nonverbal behaviours - tone of voice, gestures, posture, tone of voice, and eye are all ways we communicate. We should make better use of nonverbal communication,  such as eye contact and hand gestures, and consider all parties'  linguistic abilities whenever possible.

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Below we have listed some really good resources for you!

 

https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/communications/communicatingclearly/

HSE Land Also have amazing, easy to navigate training courses on Communication skills

In which you can attain CPD Certificates for Free!