The importance of communication in nursing

The importance of communication in nursing.

Communication is a process that requires us to interact through an exchange of verbal and nonverbal messages so that we understand each other and the world around us. As a nurse, we meet people of all ages and levels of experience and we always need to adjust our communication style to suit the individual needs. We would not talk to an adult as a child and neither would we to talk to a child as an adult, the situation changes on a regular basis therefore we need to be able to change to be able relate to the patient.

There are many different health care professionals that are situated on a ward, including Doctors, nurses, Healthcare assistants and physiotherapists. There is communication with patients but rarely is there time to sit down and have a conversation about their day and when family would be visiting, we know their names but what do they like? What did they do when they were younger? When would they like to go to bed? When would they want their dinner?

It would be questioned on why this is important; the National Health Service (NHS) has started to ensure that their care is to change into more patient-centred. Ideally the patients should have the choice of when they want to go to bed or the meal they would prefer but this is not always possible for nurses to accommodate and unfortunately the patients have become accustomed to the way the ward runs.

Each patient will also have different communication needs; including those who may have visual or hearing impairment. This must be identified on the first initial review and a plan should be set in place to be able to cater for their needs, healthcare professionals should be trained in the alternative communication requirements. Unfortunately, interpreters are not always available all day and we need to change the way we would normally communicate. This would include being able to perform basic sign language and being able to communicate with those who have visual impairment.

On the weekend, there are volunteers available to come and sit down with the patients and have a conversation with them when family were unable to attend. It is nice to see that a young person could sit and speak openly and learn more about the patient. Yes, nurses are busy and sometimes feet do not touch the ground but surely there should be time each day to sit with them and discuss their day and provide the different types of communication that may be needed.

When a patient arrives onto the ward it can become confusing for them as they rarely have a named nurse or healthcare assistant or the same doctor on a regular basis, therefore it is extremely important for the staff members to introduce themselves to the patient.

The ‘Hello my name is’ campaign was first introduced in August 2013 Kate Granger was admitted into hospital following post-operative sepsis, during this stay she became aware that staff did not introduce themselves during the delivery of her care. Kate felt that this was a basic step in communication. After this incident, she decided to start a campaign to encourage and remind healthcare staff the importance of introductions. Introductions are about making human connection to be able to build the trust between the patient and the nurses.

Whether you are student nurses or registered nurses surely it is important to be able to communicate? Are we able to spend that time with each patient and no would be the honest answer, we do not have enough time, we are continually short staffed on a regular basis but no matter how stretched we are we always try and provide the best quality of care.