Effective communication skills are essential for working in health and social care. The first part of the essay will define effective communication skills. This would be followed up by various forms of communication. The next part of the essay would dwell on various forms of communication. This will be followed up by theories on effective communication before elements of effective communication coming in. Lastly, the essay will talk about importance of effective communication and factors undermining effective communication. The conclusion will mention various forms of adapting to communication challenges.
Communication is the act by which people share information, attitudes, knowledge and ideas. The information is normally passed from one person to another via various media. Communication could involve a group of people, an organization and others different parties. The information can come in form of gestures, sounds or symbols. The main purpose of communication is to achieve given objectives.
Communication comes in verbal or non-verbal forms. In verbal communication, information, opinions, feelings, and thoughts are transmitted using speech. On the other hand, non-verbal communication is passed using body languages and gestures. In hospitals and other health facilities, it is important that medics develop good communication skills. This would ensure effective communication between the staff, medics, and patients as well as the overall good working environment.
Verbal communication is a word-based form of communication. It means it involves both spoken and written forms of communication. Talking to clients, colleagues, and relatives is a frequent exercise done by health practitioners. Therefore, verbal communication skills are needed to communicate with patients, their relatives, and friends. Among the things discussed in such conversations include assessments of progress of patients; also are discussed concerns, distress and worries of patients. The health officers also need to develop more effective methods of breaking bad news to patients and their relatives.
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Mode of delivering verbal communication can easily affect the quality and meaning of information. These include; volume, pace, tone, clarity and pitch of an individual voice. For example, it is not advisable to mumble, talk fast, shout, or behave aggressively when communicating to patients. Speaking in such a way is unprofessional and can easily draw attention of other people. As a result, the information ends up being ineffective because people will focus on how you delivered it. A medic speech must be unambiguous, clear and spaced to suit the listeners. These would enable the listener to hear and understand what is being said. Finally, medics who use encouraging, relaxed and friendly tone are able to convey sincerity, warmth and respect to the listeners (Bales, 1970, p.89).
It is not necessary for us to only talk in order to communicate with other people. Non-verbal communication can also be used to convey the same message as would verbal communication. There are special skills within health institution that are used for non verbal communication. The skills involve facial expression, eye contact, posture, touch and proximity.
A person’s posture can convey information about a patient’s attitude and feelings. For example, if a person stands stiffly and on upright posture may mean he/she is tense or has an aggressive attitude. Health practitioners can use their skills of postural messages to understand a person’s mood and feelings. This serves as useful information during interviews and counselling sessions (Burnard, 1992, p.103).
Furthermore, an individual posture may indicate he/she is unhappy, in pain or feel uncomfortable. However, a skilful medic would check postural message with patients before jumping into conclusions. This can be done by asking patient questions like how they are feeling. From here, the medic would be able to decode the non-verbal message.
We can develop good communication links between services providers and recipients through various ways. Good communication and interpersonal techniques are important in practicing good health and social care. When passing information, the sender ought to employ varieties of strategies to ensure health and social care needs are met. This would ensure that a positive working relationship is developed.
There are different approaches for communication such as cognitive, humanistic, behavioural, social and psychoanalytical. These theories can help develop certain skills in health sector and social care. For example, the humanistic hypothesis is employed in situations whereby individuals involve aspects of self-esteem, self-actualization, self-concept, dignity and honour. The theory emphasis on the fact that everyone has the potential of being good, lovable, and able positively contributes to the society (Tuckman, 1965, p.76).
In the social care and health sector, service providers such as nurses, doctors, home care manager and social workers; get the appropriate training so that they can offer the best services to the patients and clients. The medics offer their services in a most humanistic manner by practising and implementing good communication techniques that are relevant in the given situation.
Social theory is the employment of theoretical frameworks to interpret and study social phenomenon within a given context. It is an important tool used mainly by social scientists. They relate to historical arguments over appropriate and reliable methodologies. Some social theories tend to remain objective, scientific and descriptive.
Cognitive theory is a hypothesis to be implemented instantly. Social cognition is the storage, processing, encoding, and retrieval of information to members of same species.
Behavioural theory is basically methods that individuals develop in order to deal with other people effectively. Behavioural theory is easily developed as one only needs to assess the actions of leaders and their success. With a significant amount of study, you can then correlate statistically important behaviours with success. On the other hand, one can identify behaviours which lead to failure and thus having a wider concept about behavioural theory.
Psychoanalytic theory refers to the study of factors leading to stress, negative behaviour, emotion and unconscious factors affecting ones mental status. It is necessary for all health institutions to respect and implement strategies designed to provide effective communication to all staffs and recipients. Appropriate and applicable trainings on verbal and non-verbal communication are offered to individuals within health institution in order to ensure effective delivery of messages and eventually good services. Furthermore, all workers are notified about new development and techniques through trainings and various educational courses in order to update their communication skills. Researchers play a key role in the betterment of health facilities. There are numbers of skills that have been followed and employed.
This new techniques are designed for those with sensual impairment. The impairment could range from dementia, autistics and speechlessness. The techniques employed include; postures, gestures and use of PECS.
Any health department is made up of various types of service users. As a health provider, the institutions ought to develop various communication skills through experience, knowledge and skills.
When a group of people engages in communication, they go through various stages of communication process before a message is passed or transmitted from one person to another. One of the stages involves getting an idea. This is the information to be communicated. Second one is encoding the information in order to put it in a communication language. Third stage is the dispatching of information using a convenient route. Fourth, the message is received by the recipient. The recipient then decodes the information, acts on it and finally gives a feedback.
Various factors should be put in place when communicating. First of them is source. One has to be interested in the subject. The sender and the recipient ought to be familiar with each other. In a hospital, the sender ought to modify the information to the level of patient and choose an appropriate communication media that would be convenient to the recipient (Argyle 1967, p.47).
The message passed to patients ought to be clear and concise. The accuracy of information should be accurate for the recipient to comprehend it. The information ought to be relevant to the conditions of the patient or recipient. Lastly, if the information is timely and meaningful, the patient would be able to apply it in a given situation.
The channel used to pass information should be appropriate to the patient and accessible for the patient in order to get it on time. The patient should receive information in an affordable media that is also appealing to them.
The patient receiving the information should have interest in it. The interest would increase his eagerness to receive it. The patient should be in a position to understand the value and applicability of the message so that he is able to give a feedback.
The sender of information should use convenient channels. In the event the information is passed orally, it could take place through lectures, rallies, Debates, public talks, meetings or testimonies. In rural areas, medical practitioners can pass information in folk media such as dances, songs, and poems. In case the patient are well to do, the medical practitioners and patient would communicate using print media such as; newspaper, posters, pictures, leaflets or flyers. In case the information to be passed is urgent, the message can be communicated through electronic media such as TV, Radio or computer. In other circumstances, the medical officer may use pictures and symbols to communicate. However, in such circumstance the message requires a bit of convincing.
These involve attending welcoming greetings between the patient and physician. The greetings can be useful in easing any tension between them. After receiving the information, both parties can ask questions in order to verify if the message is well understood. While communicating, the parties can use non-verbal communication skills like nodding in order to encourage the other party to continue delivering the message. The communicating parties ought to maintain eye contact in order to understand all facial messages being used. The parties should also use encouraging phrases to enable free flow of information. In case the message being delivered is too emotional, the parties ought to control their emotions so that the information is delivered with ease. In case the information being delivered is more than what the recipient can comprehend, then the recipient should take it down in point form.
If information is transmitted in a proper way, it gets to the recipient on time. The recipient would then work on it using the given instructions. In case it is prescription from a doctor, the patient would be able to adhere to the prescription as indicated by the doctor. On the other hand, effective communications skills enable both the doctors and patients to exchange information in details thus increasing the level of confidence between the two parties.
Lastly, patients need to maintain their sense of identity while treatment. This can be achieved through a continuous communication between the patients and the doctors.
Various factors limit effective communication between the service users and service providers. For example, visual disability can limit an individual from reading instruction from the doctor or reading prescription written on drugs sold over the counter.
Foreign language and different cultural backgrounds can hinder effective communication. For example if a Chinese is treated in an African hospital, he or she might not communicate effectively with the medics due to language barrier. Some of Africans consider it a taboo to talk about sex oriented sickness. Some of the Africans cannot allow person of opposite sex to treat them when sick. As result, this cultural barrier may hinder effective communication between the doctor and patients.
Different regions have different dialects that suit them. In case a patient is from a different region, he or she might not understand some of the words because of different pronunciation.
Stress and emotional factors can also limit the flow of information between various between the given parties. Since if a patient is stressed, he might not be able to express himself clearly.
Use of jargon and slang limits effective communication between individuals. It is only specific group of people that can understand a given jargon or slang.
Health issues such as pain and illness could limit flow of message. Therefore, sick patient who are in pain might not be able to speak due to pain.
Environmental conditions such as noise and smoke may hamper the communicating parties from passing information. As result, the patient and the doctor do not convey the relevant information to one another.
Individuals with memory difficulties are not able to communicate effectively due to memory loss. As result, they are not able to communicate relevant information to one another.
In noisy rooms, soundproof walls should be used to discourage noise. Distorted lights should be replaced to ensure individuals see clearly.
Individuals should also learn international languages so that communication between foreigners can be eased easily.
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