Why communication is important
Having good communication with patients/clients helps them in three main ways.
Good communication helps patients/clients feel at ease
It’s common for people who need health care services to feel anxious about their health, about what tests and treatment they might have to undergo and about what the future holds for them. This can sometimes lead them to speak out of character, perhaps being a bit rude or aggressive. Having good communication with health care workers will reduce their anxiety and build their confidence.
Good communication helps patients/clients to feel in control
It’s easy for people to feel that they give up all control of their lives once they enter the health system. If they’re in hospital, for instance, even simple everyday things they normally control, like when they get out of bed, when they wash and when they eat, might be dictated by someone else. Losing control can make people feel helpless and hopeless, which isn’t good for boosting their chances of recovery from illness. But good communication can avoid these feelings – it can help people to see that they still have a say and are still in charge of their own lives.
Good communication makes patients/clients feel valued
The most precious thing we can give to another person is our time. When we show we’re prepared to lay aside all the other things we need to do to spend time with someone, to listen to them, get to know them and understand how they are feeling, we’re showing that we really value that person. Being able to communicate well helps us achieve this with patients/clients.
So let’s look at some of the methods of communication we can use to help patients/clients in these important ways. We’ll look at communication issues with colleagues later in the programme, in teamwork.