Effective Communication Skills Are Essential for Working in Health and Social Care

A healthy communication between service providers and users is vital in a health and social care system. It is essential for service providers in the health care sector to develop excellent communication skills to enable effective communication. This leads to development of good relationship between providers and users of health care services. The main task of health care staffs is to apply professional techniques in communication to enable creation of a better communication environment.

Communication skills are of various forms, such as non-verbal and verbal. This indicates the existence of many approaches that can be employed by the staff to develop a good relationship between them and the service users. Generally, interpersonal skills and good communication are vital in health and social care practice. The different methods of communication will enable practitioners facilitate effective working relations.

Communication Theories

Varieties of strategies involved in communication include social, psychoanalytical, cognitive, behavioural, and humanistic theoretical approaches. The theories are important in development of crucial techniques in health and social care sector.

The social theory utilizes theoretical frameworks in a bid to understand the social phenomena of a particular situation. Social scientists use certain tools, such as positivism and antipositivism, in relating historical debates. However, some social theories remain strictly objective, descriptive and scientific.

Psychoanalytic theory deals with determination and analysis of causes of negative behaviour, emotion and stress. It is more concerned with unconscious elements that influence mental status of individuals.

Cognitive theory implementation is instantaneous. It involves using the brain to encode, store, retrieve, and process information relating to members of a given species. Social cognition may also refer to social psychology approach involving studying of processes according to information processing theory and cognitive psychology methods. However, the term is widely used in cognitive neuroscience and psychology. For instance, it is used in reference to social disabilities.

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Behavioural theory is concerned with the behaviour portrayed by different individuals in a bid to find effective mode of communication. This theory is easy to develop as it requires assessment of both the actions of leaders and their success. A thorough study will reveal correlation between success and behaviours. Moreover, the study can also focus on behaviour that causes failure.

The humanistic theory is applied in situations of individual’s dignity, honour, self-esteem, self-concept, self-actualization etc. It signifies that every individual is important and has to play a significant role in societal development. It upholds an optimistic attitude towards every human being. Through this theory, all health service providers are taught to take care of the service users in the most humane manner. This encourages use of communication modes that are relevant to the individual and situation.

It is essential for the health care staff to familiarise themselves with the various strategies by accepting, following and implementing them. This will help them provide effective communication for their colleagues, service users and visitors. Ensuring that the staffs act professionally will require incorporating regular and appropriate training. Moreover, the trainings and short courses will incorporate new developments to ensure that the employees are acquainted with the modern skills that continue to emerge in the communication world.

It is important to note the significancy of this research in developing effective communication in the social and health care sector. A number of techniques relating to health care have emerged from the research. They have enriched the communication environment, especially for those with sensual impairments like autism, dementia, and speechlessness. Examples of techniques that have developed due to research include use of PECS, Haptic communication, Gestures, use of MAKATON, Communication passport etc.

Application of the Theories in Health and Social Care Sector

The health and social care departments administer to a wider scope of varied service users. This requires development of a communication scheme based on skills, experience and knowledge of the users. This may follow a combination of various techniques as proposed by numerous theorists in order to develop effective communication. Several theorists made attempts in evaluating the role of positivism under humanistic theory in order to improve the communication process. These theorists include Clarke Moustakas, B.F Skinner, Abraham Maslow, and Carl Roger. For instance, the health and social care sector adopted Abraham Maslow's theories, which included biological, social, psychoanalytical, cognitive, behaviourist, and humanist theories.

The theory touching on humanistic behaviour argues that each individual is unique, and possesses varied characteristics that are assessed through individual’s communication by being caring, respectful, kind, and gentle, etc. On the other hand, application of cognitive behaviour theory helps health care staff understand the patients’ problems and help them come up with solutions. Below are case studies that indicate application of various theories.

During one of the normal shifts in the hospital, a nurse brought in food for one of the patients. Upon noticing the food, the patient started screaming. The nurse was shocked by the reaction and politely asked what was wrong with the food. The patient responded that he did not like the food mixed with soup. The nurse immediately apologized and brought in food and soup on different plates. The patient was happy with the food and ate to his satisfaction. This demonstrates application of psychoanalytical theory. The health care staff understood the patient’s dislike for food mixed up in soup.

There was a patient who suffered severe burns on her face. She rarely socialized with people despite her young age. A health care staff noticed this rare behaviour and decided to engage the patient in some outdoor activity within the hospital. It would make the young lady participate in public functions and improve her social skills. Initially, the patient resisted the offer, but the health care official was able to convince her. During her first days away from her room, she walked around but never participated in any of the activities. At last, she realized she could participate in playing volleyball and never missed a session. This is a demonstration of social theory in practice.   

There was another patient who liked her room arranged in a given manner. The patient was also specific when it came to food and the way she liked it to be served. The health care staff observed these behaviours and decided to perform everything as the patient required. The patient was always all smiles when the health official was around because she got the services she needed. This is an example of cognitive behaviour theory in practice. The health care official observed the patient’s behaviour and the required needs.

Use of Communication Skills

Professionals and staffs are trying their best to provide the most effective communication. There are measures put in place to monitor effectiveness in the provision of health care services. The communication techniques can be categorised as verbal or nonverbal. Moreover, modern technologies help update the knowledge and skills of the professionals.

In health care service, communication between colleagues in the sector is very important. This is especially so during handover after each shift. The health care will need to update the incoming colleague on the progress of the patients under his/her care. Failure for effective communication during the transition period can jeopardize the health of the patients.

In every health facility, there needs to be a communication book. This book used by the staffs in order to provide information concerning what has transpired or what is yet to happen at the workplace. The employees need to open the communication book regularly to keep it updated. Apart from the communication book, another avenue for communication among colleagues and clients is the notice board. The notice board may contain information concerning nurse or support worker and their allocated clients. It also contains schedule that indicates involved activities, as well as names of staff working in particular shifts.

The health officials need to undergo mandatory training to enhance their communication techniques at the workplace. The trainings are beneficial to the health sector as it makes the employees provide better services to the patients. The training should incorporate the use of visuals, such as videos and demonstrations, to ensure active participation of the health officials and firm understanding of the techniques.

The hospital staffs carry out a rigorous process during interviews to get the best. Communication skills form a major section of the interviews and try to test the individual’s ability to communicate effectively. Verbal and nonverbal communication are widely utilized in the health care sector, especially during meetings to address issues affecting patients. During meetings, minutes are taken and a printout of the same is circulated to all staff members so that no one is left out on matters concerning the wards. Health facilities do record information concerning visitors who wish to visit their close relatives.

The health and social care department has incorporated the latest technologies in order to ensure effective communication. These include communication devices and monitors, IT, and regular training of the staff. The members of staff have embraced use of technology, such as the internet and its websites, to ensure faster transfer of information. The health department has also adopted the use of technology in practical sessions during training. This include DVD recordings, video, and getting materials from the internet. Technology has been used in transmitting crucial information accurately and fast. These technological advantages embrace the use of e-mails and social media like Facebook and Twitter.

A health care worker must know when to apply a given technique. However, situations may require the assistance of a mentor, advocate, counsellor or therapist. It happens when dealing with individuals with visual disabilities or impairment. The information gathered from a patient is recorded in electronic medical files for easier access.

The health care department requires proper interpersonal communication skills to remain effective. This will require members of staff to regularly update the needs and requirements. Different interpersonal skills come into play to achieve the objective of a health care worker. These skills include MAKATON, SPECS, nonverbal, and verbal techniques. Moreover, these abilities need to be accompanied by excellent listening skills and a positive attitude. When utilizing verbal communication, the healthcare worker needs to ensure that communication is understandable, clear, simple, audible, and respectable. This will make a patient understand the meaning of message without difficulties.

Nonverbal communication needs to be handled with a lot of concern. Since it involves expressions, a healthcare worker needs to be careful to avoid relaying conflicting information. It involves use of facial expressions, tone of the voice, body posture, tension in muscles, angle of the head, and hand and arm gestures. Sometimes leaning forward can be an indicator of interest compared to leaning back. The facial expressions may relay emotional messages and so on.

Healthcare staffs need to be aware of the close relation between verbal and nonverbal communication, and apply these techniques effectively when handling clients and visitors. This will require analysis of own and other people’s body language to ensure no wrong message is sent.

Various cultural and social behaviours influence communication effectiveness. The healthcare employees need to acknowledge that their clients hail from diverse backgrounds and need to be treated with respect in accordance to their ethical and cultural values. The differences may be the result of dissimilar values and beliefs, educational status, sensual impairment, physical disabilities, social status, mode of dressing, pattern of understanding, languages etc. Since individuals within an ethnic group have many forms of showing respect when communicating, a health care worker needs to choose the best approach that will not make anyone feel disrespected. This requires development of Code of Good Practice to guide the health workers in their daily communication.

The development of policies to protect the interest of various ethnic groups will ensure effective communication in the health care sector. It includes respecting social factors, cultural background, and religious practises. Therefore, the health care workers will strive to ensure that clients’ well-being and preferences are provided. Legislation should provide guidance in a multicultural environment that will ensure rights of every individual are catered for in public facilities, such as the healthcare centres. The legislation establishes techniques and communication strategies that are accessible to everyone.

A health care department can employ various methods in order to achieve good practice in communication. There should be a Protection Act that prevents a health worker from disclosing information of a service user to a third party. This is provided by the Data Protection Act of 1998. The introduction of Equality Act in 2010 has made the health sector more effective. It includes right of individual’s privacy and dignity.

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Good practice in communication leads to improved efficiencies in service delivery in a health care facility. It also builds confidence and trust among individuals associated with the facility. Professionals and members of staff follow the code of conduct through effective communication. They also understand and adhere to the relevant Code of Practice, Data Protection Act, and law of confidentiality. Furthermore, trainings and developments do enhance the communication techniques.

Computer Information Systems have been part of the health care sector for a long time. Initially, the system was considered expensive and complicated to use. However, recent developments have led to creation of efficient information technology systems in almost all departments of health administration. The developments have brought about cost-effective measures that have benefitted the health care sector. Software packages have been effective in recording data and communication in the sector.

The use of the internet has become instrumental in providing a wide range of research reports and documentations. This shows how computer has occupied a crucial spot that is increasing in demand given the rapid developments. In the workplace, the internet can be effectively utilized to facilitate stock ordering for various wards.

The use of the information technology has enabled fast and systematic execution of crucial activities, such as patient’s referral and transfer. The system saves time and cost, and, therefore, has minimal errors. Communication between social workers is also more accurate and coherent.

The health care information system is divided into two main branches. These are Administrative Information System and Clinical Information System. The Administrative Information System functions to keep data regarding a patient’s healthcare cost, incurred charges, outstanding balance etc. On the other hand, the Clinical Information System deals with the medical record of a patient. The information is well stored, and can be quickly retrieved when needed. This ensures that practitioners will make a quick diagnosis as the medical history is readily available. The system allows for continuity of health care.

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