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Communication in health and social care setting

How communication skills are used in health and social care


Introduction
Communication is the means by which information is transferred amongst a
given group of people. For a communication process to be considered effective it
has to follow a given channel. Generally, there has to be the source of the
information being communicated, a proper channel that the information has to
follow and finally the receiver.
The need for an effective communication within a health or a social care
set up cannot be overemphasized. In a hospital, for instance, there comes a time
where a patient come in on an emergency and the hospital attendants have to
know what exactly is wrong the specific patient and consequently perform the
relevant treatment for him or her. Otherwise, a precious life could easily be lost
as a result of a lousy communication system.

Communication in health and social care setting

1.1 Communication in a health and social care set up and relevant


theories
According to the Case Study: Hospital Appointment,2014. We are
presented with a masterpiece of poor communication whereby Paul takes her
wife to the health facility for treatment of a weird behavior on her wife Anna. On
reaching the hospital premises, literally nobody is enthusiastic about receiving
them. The non-verbal communication imparted by the workers alone already
makes Anna lose hope in getting a quick attendance, in response her face drops.
Eventually a doctor attends to her and the doctor seems to have an
attitude to words here, he accuses her of being drunk even before he examines
her. Paul gets into a heated argument with the doctor which ends up in a great
disappointment just as extrapolated in the video Just a Routine Operation.
[Electronic print] Available at: <http:// www.youtube video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzlvgtPIof4 [Accessed 19 May 2014].
Weaver et al, (1998, p. 5) Expounds that communication is the central to
the functioning of our daily life. Without proper developed communication
channel the health and social care institutions can be a great mess because to live
is to communicate and to communicate is to enjoy life more fully. There are

Communication in health and social care setting

numerous communication theories that apply specifically to the health and social
care setting. The model developed by Harold Lasswell defines the communication
the whole process than encompasses who said who speaks, what does he or she
speaks, what channel does he or she makes use of, who is he or she addressing
and what is effect does the communication cause? This theory is also referred to
as the Dance Model.
The theory developed by Harold Lasswell is a very ideal one for a health and
social care platform. This is because in such a set up the patient needs uttermost
attention. When one is sick as in the case in Case Study: Hospital Appointment,
2014. Australia, where Anna is ill and the health attendant is supposed to
examine her, he has to be so keen on who Anna is addressing at any given point,
what she is saying, and her body language and then react appropriately in order
to help save her life.
The Shannon and Weaver theory too cannot be underrated in the health
and social care set up. It says that a good communication model should have the
following parties; the sender, the message, the channel and finally the receiver.
This definitely applies to the health set up too. The communication procedure is

Communication in health and social care setting

well defined and easy to track. If this had been followed in Case Study: Hospital
Appointment, 2014 Australia, Anna could have been well-attended to.
1.2 Use of communication skills in a health and social care context
Health communication: theory and practice (Berry, 2006) gives a very
relict outline of how communication skills should integrate into a health and
social setup. He appreciates that the process of imparting and receiving
information in the health context gets so complex in many occasions due to the
fact that most of the times the sender doubles up as the receiver. Its essentially
not a very interactive platform as in most occasions the doctor or nurse will tend
to ask the questions and receive only the answers relevant to the question they
asked. For this to happen, a most viable channel must be considered. For
instance, in the Case Study: Hospital Appointment, 2014. Australia, the doctor
was totally out of context of the hospital context. He should have asked the
relevant questions about the patients condition face to face in order to get the
relevant answer immediately and affect treatment promptly even as in the case in
of Just a Routine Operation. [Electronic print] Available at: <http:// www.youtube
video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzlvgtPIof4 [Accessed 19 May 2014].

Communication in health and social care setting

The channel chosen for any communication purpose should be very clear to
avoid any contradictions. Department of health (2004,p.2) expounds that the
channel should also ensure the security of the information considering that in
some cultures around the world contracting some diseases is tantamount to
stigmatization. Therefore, the message should be highly confidential and should
only be accessed by relevant parties; this will ensure observation of professional
ethics too in a hospital set up.
The attitude is also a very crucial factor to consider in the contemporary set
up. Borrowing from the sad incident in Case Study: Hospital Appointment,2014.
Australia, the doctor has a stinking attitude. He makes a baseless accusation that
Anna is just drunk, yet Anna is suffering from an acute pain caused by stroke. His
attitude towards the patient leads him to draw a wrong conclusion that Anna is
drunk, then he goes ahead to discharge her without doing a proper extermination
on her.
1.3 Methods of dealing with inappropriate interpersonal communication
between individuals in health and social care settings
Human beings are very social beings with unique traits that vary from one
individual to another. This gives rise to diversity. As a result of diversity, its

Communication in health and social care setting

normally impossible for one person to please the other all the times, just as the
case in Just a Routine Operation. [Electronic print] Available at: <http://
www.youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzlvgtPIof4 [Accessed 19
May 2014]. At one point people will disagree and this may lead to inappropriate
communication. This has to be dealt with as soon as it comes up in a health and
social care set up. Some of the methods that can be employed in dealing with
inappropriate interpersonal communication between individuals include:
Consider group communication
Isolated cases or special cases in a health and social care set up are usually
rare. This means most patients often have a given aspect of a common problem.
In order to avoid inappropriate interpersonal communication problems, it is
prudent that many professionals join hands in a dealing with a given case, the
situation in Case Study: Hospital Appointment, 2014. Australia for instance, could
have been handled better could the nurse have been present too.
Training the personnel on how to interpret eye contact and body
language
Nonverbal communication is an integral part of the communication process
that should not be overlooked. A patient brought in on emergency may not be

Communication in health and social care setting

able to speak on could be unconscious but by merely judging from the body
language an experienced health worker should be able to interpret whats wrong
after a few glances. Judging from how Annas head fell for instance with reference
to Case Study: Hospital Appointment, 2014. The doctor should have noted that
the situation is serious.
Revoking the license chronic violators of unprofessionalism
The doctor in the case study obviously addressed the Anna and Pauls
situation in an unprofessional manner. He could have done better. To serve as a
warning to others, such unethical professionals should be barred from practicing
because they put the very life they ought to protect at risk by poor
communication.
1.4 Strategies to support users of health and social care services with
specific communication needs
Effective partnership working
Understanding the people with special needs may prove difficult to
perfectly understand, especially in the case of a person with special needs. in
order to understand them better, measures should be put in place to ensure that

Communication in health and social care setting

they are attended to by many workmates at a go so that they are better


understood.
Consultation with disabled people
Every health and social care units should have at least somebody trained in
sign language and the use of Braille machines so as to help people with special
needs with communication when need be.
Flexibility
Specialization enables workers to major in only one aspect of their careers;
however, in the case of a health and social care setting, the professionals need to
be flexible enough to accommodate even clients with special needs.
A learning culture, including evaluation and feedback
A good health and social care workers should be open minded and ready to
learn new skills that will help the unit to accommodate people with all kinds of
communication needs effectively.

Communication in health and social care setting

How various factors influence the communication process in


health and social care
2.1 How the communication process is influenced by values and cultural
factors
Everybody has some values they live by which they acquire as they grow up
or the society imparts into them as norms. These values and cultural factors affect
communication in the following ways:
Nonverbal communication
It is said that the non-verbal communication accounts for at least 70% of all
communication. In different cultures around the world certain body languages
symbolize different inferences which may vary from one community to another.
For instance, considering the case study, which is set in a health and social care
facility, the student nurse under consideration attends to patients with an
attitude which can be noted by how she handles the Arab patient.
Her personal values are also wanting because when she is corrected instead
of humbly accepting and taking responsibility for being uncouth, she accuses her

Communication in health and social care setting

mentor of bullying her. The non-verbal communication in this case study alone is
sufficient enough to tell the mentor that the student nurse has a bad attitude.
Language barrier
Different cultures use different languages. There are numerous languages
spoken around the world that a person brought up in one culture may not serve
well as a specialist in a health and social care unit somewhere else unless he or
she is open minded and ready to learn the language of the patients at his or her
work station otherwise the two parties will not be able to communicate
effectively with each other. This often results into a communication breakdown.
Cultural differences
A culture is a way of life. All individuals belong to a relict culture with
established procedures of doing things and a set of beliefs. The student nurse in
the case study for instance, seems not to like the Arab patient due to cultural
difference which has translated into a bad attitude. As a result, she tells the
patient you have to wait a minute, the phrase is rather harsh.

Communication in health and social care setting

Geographical locations
Every culture is established in a given geographical setting. This often
affects the way a person walks, talks or articulate words. This too affects
communication. If the effect of the geographical set up where one grew up causes
him or her to pronounce ones incorrectly it may significantly affect the
communication process.
Personal values
The values of a person are like a transcript that dictates how he or she
handles the people he or she interacts with. The student nurse in the case study is
definitely devoid of good values. Otherwise, she would treat her patients with
tender care and respect not only because the code of ethics demands so but
because of her values.
2.2 How legislation, charters and codes of practice impact on the
communication process in health and social care
The legislation, charters and codes of practice directly impact the process of
communication in a health and social care unit in the following ways:

Communication in health and social care setting

Limitations of confidentiality
Confidentiality of information in a health or social care set up cannot be
gambled with. The attendants should only avail information concerning various
parties to authorized persons and not just every other Tom, Dick and Hurry.
Legislation, charters and codes of practice stipulate the relevant degree of
confidentiality therefore limiting communication. As in the case study, the mentor
calls the student nurse to a private room and addresses her on her conduct
private, if not limited by the regulations he would have addressed her publicly.
Availability of information to the service user
The codes of ethics concerning communication in the health and social care
stations require that the service users are always informed about anything that
concerns their operations in an accessible manner. They should also be informed
on the relevant uses and disclosures of the information. When they are informed,
they are in a better position to transmit effective and clear information too.
Permission to professionally discuss/consult on concerns
There are certain concerns that often arise in health and social care
facilities which require that the best decision is made and communicated. In order

Communication in health and social care setting

to make good decisions its very important that various stakeholders opinions are
listened to with regard to legislation, charters and codes of practice hence
affecting communication.
Consent of the service user
According to the legislation, charters and codes of practice concerning
health and social care demand that the information shared by the personnel
should be consented by the service user; otherwise it is not valid for
communication. In this way the codes of conduct directly affect communication in
a health and social care set up.
2.3 Effectiveness of organizational systems and policies in promoting good
practice in communication
Organizational systems and policies concerning communication are those
strategies that have been put in place by health and social care managements to
ensure communication is well encoded, flows through the right channel and
causes only the intended effects. These policies are very essential in ensuring
good practice and promoting professionalism.

Communication in health and social care setting

They are very effective because failure to observe them comes with
associated consequences. They also help in proper management of data and
securing it so that only the relevant persons access them. Considering the case
study, the student nurse had serious problems with her communication skills at
her health workstation, it is because of the policies such as duty of care that
she had to be called off duty to reconsider her position.
2.4 Ways of improving the communication process in a health and social
care setting
Setting up effective policies concerning communication
Communication in any organizational set up should often follow a specified
channel. Every health and social care sector should formulate its policies
concerning communication and abide by them.
Government legislations
The government should pass laws that stipulate the format of every
communication system that take place in public health and social care units with
the aim of improving the communication process.

Communication in health and social care setting

Training personnel on how to attend to people with special needs


The units should ensure they have at least a few personnel who can
effectively communicate and interact with service users through sight language,
bruise or other forms of integrated technology.
Encouraging consultations among professionals
To ensure good decisions are made in an organizational setting up, the
health and social care systems should encourage professional consultations
before major decisions are communicated.
3.1 The use of standard ICT software packages to support work in health
and social care
Integration of ICT into the procedures at health and social care stations has
led to amazingly interesting outcomes that has made the procedures not only fast
but also very accurate and specialized. The ICT packages come as a blessing
because they are well programmed to repeatedly do the work they are purposed
for and give predictable outcomes. Most of them are scientific programs
engineered by the government, non-governmental organizations or research
institutions. Considering GE Healthcare UK, 2014.Discover our full scientific

Communication in health and social care setting

program.[online] Available at: < http://www3.gehealthcare.co.uk/> [accessed 20


May 2014] some of the ideal ICT software packages that health and social care set
up should consider investing in are:
The vivid E9 with XD clear
This is an E9 cardiovascular ultrasound device that was developed in the
Netherlands. It doesn't only shorten the examination time, but also greatly
enhances the diagnostic confidence in both the adult and childrens ultrasound
laboratories during the interventions. This applies to the modern healthcare unit
which continually sees a rise in cardiovascular cases caused by obesity as
addressed in GE Healthcare UK, 2014.Discover our full scientific program.[online]
Available at: < http://www3.gehealthcare.co.uk/> [accessed 20 May 2014]
The OEC mobile hybrid OR
The cost constructing, operating rooms with all the healthcare facilities
around the world is an activity that can overwhelm the government both in terms
of money and other resources. GE Healthcare UK Discover our full scientific
program (2014) explains that the OEC mobile hybrid OR is a great option
because it has the whole theatre package and can be moved from one station to
another.

Communication in health and social care setting

The two are a great masterpiece that shows how ICT can be applied to the
health and social care units in order to increase efficiency while at the same time
making work easier and reducing costs of operations.
3.2 Benefits of using ICT in health and social care for users of services,
care workers and care organizations
It very important to keep accurate records concerning patients who seek
healthcare services, the institution should be updated on the illness that a given
patient has suffered from in the past, what drugs they have swallowed or been
injected with before and if they have had operations done on them. Formerly all
these details were written on a piece of paper so that the doctor simply glimpses
on the paper them decides on what to do next with the patient.
However, there was often a problem when these important documents
were misplaced. This has led to both the public and private practitioners to
heavily invest in ICT to help avoid such scenarios. The information system
platforms are getting even better as days go by and the management of health
and social care facilities is even getting better. With reference to GE Healthcare
UK Discover our full scientific program (2014), some of the advantages this has
brought along are:

Communication in health and social care setting

Online health services


Thanks to ICT doctors today rely on a blend of online computer services and
the paper records about every patient they attend to. Once a search is launched
on the databases of the facility the doctors and nurses can view all the details and
even watch the progress and compare notes with the paper records to ensure
accuracy. This is lately the case with the social care services today; all information
concerning both service users and clients is available online. This has greatly
increased the quality of services.
Electronic alerts
This applies more so to the social care system whereby the social care unit
is run based on an informatics service. In case of any emergency, a tele-health
system is activated and it helps the users of the service, to detect the problem,
then directs on which the best action to take is based on the nature of the
emergency.
Modern laboratory management systems
There have been numerous cases of samples taken for testing getting lost
or being confused due to lack of proper laboratory system management system.

Communication in health and social care setting

With the integration of ICT in data management in social care and health units
laboratories, every sample is well labelled and information concerning all patients
is well kept. The records are kept safe and can only be retrieved by the relevant
personnel.
Publications
Health and social care situations can today communicate their official news
to the public through publications. With the appropriate ICT mechanism put in
place, all information concerning users of services, care workers and care
organizations can be recorded, analyzed, projected and published.
3.3 How legal considerations in the use of ICT impact on health and social
care settings.
The ICT in the field of health and social care is highly appreciated and
recommended. However, it has to be regulated and used with moderation to
ensure efficiency, for this reason, governments make laws that govern its use.
When use of ICT is considered dangerous, it should be avoided. Every piece of
technology has to be tested and tried to ensure it does not put a patients life in
any form danger. Users of services, care workers and care organizations must

Communication in health and social care setting

succinctly study the government regulations concerning the ICT devices before
approving it or otherwise face the law.

Communication in health and social care setting

References
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978 1 843 109 27 3
Just a Routine Operation. [Electronic print] Available at: <http://
www.youtube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzlvgtPIof4 [Accessed 19
May 2014].
GE Healthcare UK, 2014.Discover our full scientific program.[online]
Available at: < http://www3.gehealthcare.co.uk/> [accessed 20 May 2014]ISBN:
978 1 412 922 85 2
Moss, B.Communication Skills for Health and Social Care. Sage Ltd. 2007.
NVQ/SVQ Level 4 and Foundation Degrees. Heinemann. 2008.ISBN 978 0
435 500 07 8
Thompson, N. Third Edition.People Skills. Palgrave. 2009.ISBN: 978 0 230
221 12 3