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Communicating in Health and Social Care Institutions

Communicating in Health and Social Care Institutions

Communication forms the basis of interactions and coordination in health care. Health
care professionals have to communicate with their patients, among themselves, as well as with
the hospital management. On their part, hospitals have to communicate with their staff and
patients and also interact with the external environment. The efficiency of running health care
institutions is dependent on the effectiveness of communication systems. Usually, service
delivery is unsatisfactory if proper communication fails to take place. Patients may not
understand instructions, clinicians may misinterpret directions, and hospitals may lose important
information. Basically, communication in health and social care organizations involves concepts
such as communication channels, policies, agents, services, devices, and message type,
interaction mode, and security protocol. Each of these concepts is mostly determined by the
organizational structure in specific institutions. When the communication system is faulty,
organizations experience inconveniences and hardships in their practice. So as to avoid such
inconveniencies, facilities must explore technologically advanced tools, optimize interactions
and discussions among professionals and interdisciplinary personnel, and avoid risks associated
with poor communication. On their part, health and social care practitioners should possess
particular skills to have efficient communications with their patients. This paper gives an in-
depth look into the application of communication skills in clinical and social care by health
professionals. Later, the paper discusses factors that influence the application of such skills in the
two settings. Lastly, it discusses ways in which health and social care institutions apply
technology in their communication systems for enhanced efficiency.

1.0 Use of Communication Skills in Health and Social Care Institutions


Communication skills that clinicians and social care practitioners apply during their
practice influence the ability of patients to understand, follow, and adhere to recommendations
and instructions. For instance, studies indicate that patients are better placed to manage chronic
ailments and administer preventive self-care when clinicians deliver information effectively
(Institute of Healthcare Communication, 2011). Practitioners use communication skills in
different ways when ensuring that they communicate effectively with patients.
1.1 Application of Communication Theories to Health and Social Care
The theory of communication as a multi-way process applies perfectly to the health care
se up. The theory divides communication into two major concepts, verbal and non-verbal
communication (Chaaban & Sezgin, 2015, Pg. 190). The theory describes the verbal part as the
words, sentences, and phrases that communicators use. On the hand, the non-verbal part includes
four elements. The four are the standing, kinesics, paralinguistic, and prosodic elements
(Corcoran, 2013, Pg. 8). The prosodic part includes the rhythm and intonation used in
communication. In health and social care, for instance, the speed of communication alters the
extent to which message recipients comprehend communications. This concept is particularly
important when clinicians interact with patients. I will illustrate this with my personal experience
at Gracefield Hospital. I once used to be fast in directing patients until a time when I had directed
one of my patients to the laboratory only for him to head directly to the pharmacy. He queued in
the pharmacy section and when I spotted him, I asked him whether he had gone to the laboratory.
I learnt from his reply that he did not get my directions, and since the pharmacy is the most
obvious destination for patients who have seen their physicians, he just assumed that I had
directed him to the place. Upon my reflection, I realized that I was too fast and the patient was
not that quick in grasping my directions. This was a practical experience of inefficiencies caused


by poor communication skills as warned in the aspect of prosodic element of the theory of multi-
way communication. My poor skills had resulted in a waste of time for the client. The other non-
verbal cues in the theory of multi-way communication are kinesics, standing, and paralinguistic
features which refer to body language, appearance, and use of expressions such as “ahhh”
respectively. It is common to find patients and staff members describe how attractive or
unattractive other people are in their communication on the basis of these non-verbal features.
On their part, verbal expressions as described in the theory of multi-way communication refer to
the message itself. For example, if clinicians keep using phrases rather than exact words that they
mean, patients may find it hard to get the message. The other relevant model in social and health
care communication is the theory of self-disclosure. The model explains interpersonal
communication in health care delivery systems (Bylund, Peterson, & Cameron, 2012, Pg. 263).
The theory centers on the level of interactions that health practitioners enjoy with their clients.
For this model, unlike in the multi-way theory, communication is mainly perceived from the
perspective of the patient. When clinicians earn the trust of their clients, they may need to
respond by expressing certain features in their communications. For instance, they may need to
express emotional attachment to their clients. They would do so by the choice of words that they
use. From a personal experience, I express affection to patients who disclose their private life to
me and by so doing, I earn more trust from patients and the move enhances my efficiency in
attending patients. So as to improve my communication skills, I should emphasize on the
elements in the multi-way communication as well as the ones in the Theory of Self-Disclosure.

1.2 Using Communication Skills in Health and Social Care
Clinicians’ ability to apply communications skills to practice has numerous benefits.
Actually, communication is a determinant of the quality of services that professionals offer to


their patients. Personally, I boost the quality of my services by conducting open-ended enquiries,
reflective listening, and developing emotional connections when necessary. In so doing, I am
able to address the specific or unique needs that each patient would present. Generally,
application of effective communication skills enhances the accuracy of services such as
diagnoses and treatment. It also enhances patient medication-adherence and safety and promotes
patient and family satisfaction. Additionally, the practice minimizes chances of malpractice, and
it enables health and social care practitioners to address the needs of their patients effectively
hence increasing the quality of their services and so their demand. However, so as to have
optimal communication outcomes in health care, practitioners need setting the pace from the
beginning. Therefore, they should not just focus in areas such as the directions they give to their
patients during treatment, but also on the information that patients offer to them during
diagnoses. It is for this reason that they should consider a variety of theories when conducting
the overall care process. Actually, the basis of health and service care is interviewing patients
during diagnosis. If clinicians apply skills that would enable them to conduct interviews
efficiently, they would collect all the essential information. Personally, I prioritize on collecting
all the necessary information by exploiting skills that stabilize patients such as being able to
minimize interruptions. I also promote medication adherence by ensuring that patients
understand what they are supposed to do. When purposing to promote patient satisfaction,
clinicians should employ skills that convince their clients that they are handling their problems
with the necessary weight. For instance, they could let their patients know that the entire patient
care team is involved and it is dedicated to address their specific demands. Also, clinicians
should show that they understand the history of their clients so as to convince them that their
services are satisfactory. Clinicians should also use communication to avoid risks and


malpractices. Huntington and Kuhn noted that improper communication strategies are a major
cause of risks and malpractices (cited in Institute of Healthcare Communication, 2011).
1.3 Methods of Dealing with Inappropriate Interpersonal Communication in Health and

Social Care Facilities

Usually, communication in health care involves multiple parties and it could be termed as
interpersonal. For Gracefield Hospital, clinicians such as nurses, doctors, pharmacists, therapists,
dieticians, and others would need to interact effectively for them to handle the needs of their
wide range of patients efficiently. However, there may be instances when such communication
could be disrupted. Application of interpersonal communication theories would be a crucial
approach in overcoming such challenges. For communication between practitioners,
interpersonal communication strategies would include dialogues and the use of interactive
channels such as office phones and computers. Gracefield Hospital enhances dialogues by
adopting interactive communication systems. Failures of communication between health and
social care providers and their clients are also risky in patient care processes. At Gracefield
Hospital, some of these hardships are commonly generated by language barriers, differences in
education levels, disparities associated with culture and social practices, as well personal matters
such as privacy, and time constraints. In most cases, hospitals and social care institutions should
address particular challenges when designing their communication systems. For instance, they
would employ interpreters where instances of language barrier are likely to hinder
communication. So as to overcome barriers of communication associated with differences in
education, practitioners should use simple language and explain concepts in simplified manners.
It would also be important for facilities to encourage their employees to extend culturally-
sensitive care so as to avoid misunderstandings between them and their patients. Also,


institutions should ensure that practitioners adhere to ethics of care such as those expecting them
to maintain confidentiality and privacy when entrusted with patient information. It would also be
important for hospitals to have enough facilities and personnel so as to maximize the instructions
of patients and care providers. Usually, shortage of resources and inadequacy of healthcare staff
pressure practitioners to hasten their care creating time constraints (Chertoff, 2015, Pg. 2).
Provision of adequate resources would facilitate interpersonal communications and raise the
overall quality of services.
1.4 Use of Strategies that Support Users of Health and Social Care Services with Specific

Communication Needs

Patients present different communication needs to health and social care providers. It is
important for clinicians to address the needs of specific people so as to ensure that they
accurately get their messages for optimal patient treatment and satisfaction outcomes (Ha &
Longnecker, 2010, Pg. 38). Specific needs could range from physical, emotional, and
psychological disabilities as well as economic, social, and geographical considerations. For
instance, healthcare facilities would require having sign language experts so as to address the
communication needs of the deaf. For the blind, practitioners should consider extending services
such as helping patients use assistive devices and guiding them to different facilities within the
institutions. Such practices would facilitate care delivery by enhancing the effectiveness of
communication. For people with learning and language disabilities, institutions should consider
approaches such as using images, non-verbal cues, translators, or family members. For the case
of Gracefield Hospital, translators are indispensible considering that the institution serves people
from backgrounds of all manners. Economic, social, and cultural backgrounds are also crucial
when addressing patients’ communication needs. Personally, I ensure that my communication


strategies are efficient by offering patients an opportunity to choose their preferred interaction
strategies during follow ups. I also ensure that I only use gestures that I am sure that they would
not be misinterpreted in different cultures.
2.1 How Values and Cultural Factors Influence Communication in Health and Social Care


Usually, culture makes people adopt certain values and beliefs that may influence
communication. It is a critical requirement by ethical guidelines that practitioners offer
culturally-sensitive care to patients by respecting their beliefs and cultural dignity (Zahedi,
Sanjari, Aala, Peymani, Aramesh, Parsapour, & Dastgerdi, 2013, Pg. 1). In the case of Gracefield
Hospital, for instance, clinicians occasionally deal with people who insist on particular practices
concerning their health. For instance, there are cultures that would restrict men from offering or
communicating gynecological care to women. Gynecology patients from such cultures may
decline to communicate with male practitioners, and the overall care process would be impaired.
Whether such beliefs are reasonable or not, it is beyond health care professionals to overlook the
preferences of their patients. Instead of initiating cultural conflict, Gracefield Hospital
encourages practitioners to explore possible alternatives to maximize patient satisfaction. From
my experience of cultural disparities that patient present and my knowledge on communication
skills, I encourage patients at Gracefield Hospital to express any concerns that they may have. I
also educate them on the importance of avoiding beliefs that could limit their access to health
2.2 Impact of Legislation, Codes, and Charters on Communication in Health and Social

Care Setup


Health care services and professional practice is subject to legislative regulations.
Clinicians and social care workers must adhere to laws, guidelines, codes, charters, and standards
that are structured so as to discourage malpractices. In healthcare, each discipline has specific
regulations developed by their respective boards, unions, and other regulatory agencies. They
include codes of ethical conduct, standards of practice, codes of professional conduct, and of
course the national constitution. Gracefield Hospital adheres to the UK regulatory requirements
including parliamentary acts. For instance, the Hospital relies on Data Protection Act which was
developed by the legislature in 1998 when operating its communication systems. The act requires
that organizations only use patient information for the primary purpose which their owners are
notified about, and therefore, it is a critical pillar in preventing malpractices and conflicts in
hospitals and social care facilities (Gov.UK, 2015a). Since health care providers collect much
personal information from their clients, they should handle it responsibly to avoid exposing what
would be contrary to the expectations of their clients. Personally when undertaking my day-to-
day duties in the wards of Gracefield Hospital, I come across patients who warn me against
disclosing certain information to other people. So as to come up with an acceptable decision, I
usually refer to professional codes, principles, policies, and guidelines. Generally, laws and
regulations promote patient confidentiality. Health and social care practitioners are always
expected to take caution when handling patient information. Additionally, the law requires that
clinicians inform their clients how specifically they intend to use their information (Gov.UK,
2015). In my newly entrusted responsibility, I would inform my fellow care providers about
specific laws governing communication matters in health care. Again, I would suggest measures
that would promote patient knowledge about their rights in managing their information. Through
such measures, I would also inform patients that Gracefield Hospital is sensitive to their


confidentiality and privacy, and at the same time, the facility is obliged to inform them
2.3 Effectiveness of Organizational Systems and Policies in Promoting Good Practice in


Organizational systems are critical determinants of the manner in which health and social
care professionals handle communication matters (Kodjo, 2009, Pg. 58). There are certain
practices that organizations would encourage or discourage, and by so doing, they influence the
nature of communication behaviors that prevails. For instance, if organizations tolerate practices
such as ignoring privacy and confidentiality concerns raised by patients, then practitioners would
increasingly engage in the habit (Entwistle, Carter, Cribb, & McCaffery, 2010, Pg. 742).
Eventually, such communication systems would have impaired rather than facilitated patient-
clinician interactions. The current reputable image of Gracefield Hospital could be attributed to
factors such as having an excellent communication system. The system allows the management
to see to it that clinicians adhere to policies and codes of practice throughout their interactions
with patients. It is however important to note that the system at Gracefield hospital does not
frustrate care providers. Actually, the communication system is designed in a way that it protects
patients, and at the same time, it crates enough room for clinicians to extend high-quality
services. Generally, social and health care practitioners are expected to be conversant with laws,
policies, and regulations governing communication for their institutions to prosper. Failure of
practitioners to observe such laws is a common source of legal conflicts and institutions end up
having their image tarnished. Institutions that would be aiming at advancing to more
recognizable heights would not afford legal conflicts emanating from improper handling of
patient communication. Instead, they would prioritize on perfection, conduct thorough spot-


checking, and monitor their communication approaches to evade conflicts with their clients.
Gracefield Hospital looks forward to being upgraded to a foundation, and therefore, its staff
should practice in a way that would avoid situations that would compromise its integrity and
2.4 Ways of Improving Communication in Health and Social Care Settings
There are different approaches that organizations could take in bettering their
communication strategies (Ha & Longnecker, 2010, Pg. 41). Interestingly, communication is one
of them. The approach entails equipping practitioners with professional communication skills
through training, capacity building, educational seminars, and so on. For international hospitals,
the management should encourage the staff to learn common languages such as English,
Spanish, French, Chinese, Germany, Indian, Russian, and others depending on the regions from
which they fetch most of their customers. Having basic skills in multiple languages would not
only make professionals and their institutions operate efficiently, but it would also attract people
in the sense that they would feel a psychological sense of belonging. Likewise, disabled persons
such as the deaf would feel secure if they visit institutions where their type of communication is
appreciated. In cases where institutions may not necessarily train their practitioners to learn skills
such as sign language, an effective alternative would definitely be employing interpreters for
such purposes. Gracefield Hospital, so to illustrate, has a specific subdivision in the
communication department concerned with translating information presented in languages other
than English. As such, the Hospital would rarely delay services to patients regardless of its
customers’ origin. Other important approach that health and social care institutions should
consider when focusing on improving communication strategies between care providers and
patients include encouraging basic practices such as listening and paying attention to the


meaning of the information that patients disclose. Practitioners should possess rich listening
skills for them to interact effectively with their clients. On the same line, institutions should
discourage distractions such as making personal calls in the middle of interviewing patients.
From a different angle, organizations should better their communication systems by ensuring that
their staff members are conversant with different cultures. For instance, they should know that
cultures vary on their perception of certain gestures, paralinguistic features, speaking tone, as
well as certain lines of interrogations such as those that could sound as prying into one’s personal
life. Having such knowledge on communication would place them at a position where they can
deliver care effectively. Also, hospitals should update their staff members on information
concerning policy changes from the legislative, boards, and union perspectives. Such updates are
necessary to ensure that clinicians and social health care providers adjust their communication
strategies so that they adhere to regulations.

  1. 1 Accessing and Using Standard ICT Software Packages in Supporting Practice in

Health and Social Care Setups

Perron et al. defined ICT as modern tools employed in patient care to store, convey, or
manipulate data (Perron, Taylor, Glass, & Margerum-Leys, 2010, Pg. 67). The tools influence
the careers of social health care workers just as they influence those of clinicians. Practitioners
require adapting to the technological environment by expressing competencies in using these
tools. There are both technical skills as well as abilities such as being well-placed to collaborate
with other health care professionals. In some cases, practitioners in England learn the use of ICT
tools through online databases such as Social Care Online (Scie, 2008). At Gracefield Hospital,
one of the facilities that employ ICT is the Common Assessment Framework (CAF). The
technique is ICT-enabled, more so from the perspectives of case assessment recording and data


sharing. The basis of CAF is technologically-assisted reporting systems (Holmes, 2014).
Usually, the technique enables the involved professionals to assess the needs of minor patients
with efficiency (Hampshire County Council, 2012). The administration of the tool includes
having a lead practitioner and a team of health care professionals (Department for Education and
Skills, 2015). Professionals share information through online portals. It should be noted that the
involved team members may not necessarily be in the hospital practice, but they could be in
social care as well. In the UK, there are specific guidelines, policies, and performance
management information that direct the use of CAF. Generally, for hospitals and social care
institutions to fully employ CAF, they need having reliable infrastructure with a competent IT
system, efficient information support systems, and also equip their personnel with the requisite
3.2 Benefits of Using ICT in Health and Social Care to Service Users, Health Practitioners,

and Institutions

The application of ICT in healthcare has numerous benefits. The technology enhances the
speed, reliability, standardization, and overall efficiency of care delivery. Healthcare
professionals can monitor their patients remotely and handle complications with their requisite
urgency. Electronic health records (EHR) are of special significance when considering the
benefits of ICT instruments in health care. The devices facilitate care delivery by allowing
practitioners to instantly access all patient history necessary for diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, these devices allow clinicians to consult each other and seek clarifications when
necessary. Usually, it is only authorized persons who access patient information through EHR
systems. This is enabled by having the system requiring login information which is only
available to healthcare personnel (Fernandez-Aleman, Senor, Lozoya, & Toval, 2013, Pg. 541).


Therefore, unless clinicians act irregularly, patient information is held intact by the use of the
technologically developed systems. EHR devices also promote patient safety by minimizing
chances of errors. The systems overcome the challenges of inaccuracies associated with unclear
representation of data. Also important to consider is the property of the devices enabling the
consolidation of various types of patient information including physical diagnoses, laboratory
results, pharmacy records, financial records, insurance services and others. When such
information is consolidated, clinicians find it easier to come up with decisions. On their part,
health and social care organizations find it economical to use EHR systems as opposed to the
traditional paperwork practices. Institutions do not have to keep collections of as many papers as
they used to do prior to advances in ICT. ICT overcomes the challenge of losing information by
misplacing papers or by having books get damaged and also saves space for institutions.
Hospitals are able to maintain orderliness and their management gets improved. For the case of
Gracefield, EHR devices have promoted general practices by allowing clinicians to instantly
access patient information such as blood pressure, breathing rate, past medication history,
temperature, and other crucial tests. Such information would have taken time to access had there
not been the technological instruments.
3.3 Impact of Legal Considerations Concerning the Use of ICT on Health and Social Care


The application of ICT in health care is regulated by several legal policies. Such policies
are instituted so as to control malpractices and safeguard the general wellness of patients. In the
UK, the law requires practitioners to use ICT meaningfully (Adler-Milstein, Ronchi, Cohen,
Winn, & Jha, 2014, Pg. 112). For instance, it is unexpected of clinicians to use patient
information to establish personal or business links with them. Again, practitioners are not


expected to compromise patient confidentiality and safety by placing information in places
where unnecessary parties may find access. The law in Britain does not tolerate malpractices
associated with ICT. Indeed, there is an established Act addressing misuse of computers. The
Computer Misuse Act was developed in 1990 and it defines inappropriate uses of ICT as a
prosecutable crime. The Act points out actions such as hacking of information, unauthorized
access to information, deliberate moves to alter data among other practices as unconstitutional
(Gov.UK, 2015b). While the law does not limit the application of ICT in service provision, it is
tough on those who seize the opportunity to cause harm. The law explains penalties imposed on
culprits of ICT crime, and the punitive measures include custody and fines (“Penalties”, 2015).
Definitely, the British law protects patients and therefore impacts positively on health and social
care. Without the law, there would be cases of malicious exposure of patient information on
public sites such as social media. Usually, non-adherence to the law leads to poor patient
outcomes, unmet patient expectations, high chances of legal conflicts, and a bad reputation for
institutions. Gracefield Hospital prioritizes on responsible use of patient information and
practitioners who would use ICT irresponsibly would face severe punishments. The hospital’s
emphasis on appropriate use of ICT has contributed to its desirable reputation.


Communication is an important tool in running health and social care facilities. It is the
basis of interactions and coordination in health and social care. Health care providers should
apply vital communication skills for them to deliver services effectively. The theory of multi-
way communication and that of self-disclosure are essential when addressing communication
issues in healthcare. There are various ways through which institutions can better their
communication systems. They include training their personnel, and employing professional


translators. Being in the heart of London, Gracefield Hospital stands a chance to serve people of
varied backgrounds, and translators are indispensible for efficiency running of the institutions.
By enhancing its communication system, the hospital will maintain its high profile, earn more
credit, and be upgraded to a foundation. However, the hospital would face risks of having its
image tarnished if its staff members fail to observe the law and ethics of practice. Non-adherence
to the law, regulations, and policies would attract legal technicalities, and the integrity of the
hospital would be compromised.




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