Importance of Communication
Published 20 May 2017
Communication, both written and verbal, has a key role in the nurse’s delivery of safe and quality care. Communication is the best tool for the nurse to make therapeutic use of self. In addition, continuity of patient care is best facilitated through effective communication among nurses. Through effective communication, a successful nurse-patient relationship is established. Furthermore, the different relationships in the healthcare services, as in nurse and patient, nurse and other healthcare professionals, nurse, and co-nurses, are maintained through good communication. Any breakdown in the communication line among these relationships causes failure in carrying out effective patient care.
Effective communication is critical in the administration of effective health care in patients (Markova & Broome p. 239-242). First, the importance of communication starts during the assessment of the client. Through good communication, rapport is built with the client. This helps establish a trusting relationship that allows the nurse to access pertinent information regarding the health of the client and other health-related factors. Findings during the assessment part are integral in developing the plan of care for the patient. Accurate and complete information also ensures that the client’s problems are addressed holistically. Second, all nursing interventions are carried out successfully through proper instructions and communication given to patients and their family. For example, a nurse takes care of a client who has just given birth for the first time. With this patient, it is crucial for the nurse to take on the role as an educator.
The nurse teaches the client warning signs of bleeding so that the client herself is aware of what to watch out for and when to inform the nurse of pertinent conditions. Another example is caring for a patient with diabetes wherein the nurse should effectively communicate the dietary restrictions of the patient. Generally speaking, all interventions employ good communication to be able to successfully implement the plan of care. Being able to correctly communicate to the client the actions they need to take on their own help in building independent care and client satisfaction.
Another importance of communication in nursing is in the therapeutic use of self, as majorly practiced in psychiatric nursing. Basically, therapeutic communication is the best treatment in helping the clients with these problems. Both verbal and nonverbal communication should be put into consideration when dealing with these patients. In addition, the nurse should be able to use therapeutic communication skills that will allow him to elicit responses from the client (Stuart & Laraia 30-34). Patient responses are critical in identifying the problems present among these patients. For example, a depressed client withdraws from the people in her social environment.
The client is always sad, cries all the time, and blames herself. Within this context, the nurse should be able to perceive the nonverbal cues communicated by the client. From this, the nurse plans her approach in order to empathize with the client’s feelings and thoughts. The nurse should be able to communicate to the client his willingness to help. The nurse can do this by performing regular one-on-one nurse-patient interaction, which necessarily needs good communication skills.
The therapeutic use of self is not only used in cases of patients with psychiatric disorders. The patient can use this even in patients who are psychologically able. For example, an adolescent client does not want to take his medicines. In this case scenario, the nurse needs to identify the cause of the client’s refusal to take medicines. Without good communication, the nurse will not be able to talk to the client properly and know the reason for this behavior. Using therapeutic communication skills, the nurse explores the client’s feelings and thoughts about taking his medicines. The nurse must also communicate an understanding of the patient’s condition by providing appropriate action. A possible reason why the client refuses to take his medicines is the experienced negative side effects. The nurse may then respond by recognizing and identifying if the experienced side effects of the medicine are normal.
The nurse should also inform the client regarding the weight of benefits received if medications are taken over the negative effects. Moreover, the nurse should communicate understanding by informing the client that the nurse will document this concern and report it to the doctor. This simple exchange of information, as well as in other scenarios, exemplifies the need for communication in the roles and functions of a nurse.
Furthermore, communication among nurses and other healthcare professionals is crucial in ensuring continuity of care in patients (Timmons n.pag.). Patient conditions and needs should be communicated completely to changing providers of care. This is where documentation, a form of nonverbal communication, comes of great importance. Nursing documentation is a written account of the assessment findings, implemented care, and patient responses during the whole time a patient was under the care of the nurse (College of Registered Nurses in British Columbia 5). Hence, it is an important tool in keeping track of the patient’s condition and progress.
Another aspect in communicating patient care for continuity is through endorsements during a change of shifts. Verbally reporting the pertinent events related to the client’s health give an approximate picture of the client’s present health status and what can be anticipated to happen. However, it is believed that documentation or written communications relay more information than verbal or other communication channels (Anderson & Helms 15). Hence, nursing documentation should be complete and accurate. This serves as a tool that validates the verbal endorsements shared by nurses. More importantly, nurses should be guided by the principle in the documentation that any undocumented action is considered not done and vice versa. For example, the morning shift nurse forgot to endorse verbally that she has already administered a stat order for a medication.
However, if the assigned afternoon shift nurse sees in the nurse’s chart that the previous nurse has already given the medication, he should take action based on the documentation rather than the verbal endorsement. In order to validate the information, the current nurse may confirm this with the previous nurse who administered care to the patient. This scenario illustrates that the nursing chart is almost like a “love letter” to co-nurses and other health care professionals, which communicates what was done for the patient and consequently identifies what else needs to be done for the patient. Without good documentation, there will be poor continuity of care. From this example, it suggests that not only verbal communication is important, but also other mediums for communication, which is written communication in this scenario.
The success of the nurse-patient interaction relies primarily on the rapport built with the client (Leach n.pag.). As previously stated, communication is very important in forming a good nurse-patient relationship. Through this, the exchange of information between the nurse and patient is transparent and more accurate. If the client feels like he can communicate majority of his feelings and thoughts to the nurse, he will do so. Without good communication, a good nurse-patient relationship would not be possible. For example, a nurse left a bad first impression on a certain client because he did not introduce himself nor explain the procedure he performed on the patient. Even though the nurse did not utter anything, she communicates poor personality, which disrespects the client, through her rude actions. From this experience, the client may no longer cooperate and withhold pertinent information about the self.
Communication is also very important for nurses in their process of integrating themselves as part of the health team. Nurses cannot work alone in providing health care to patients. Other healthcare professionals are present to provide a holistic approach to administering care to the client. Hence, it is very important for the nurse to communicate with them properly and accurately. The relationships formed through rendering health care services for the client are integral in the delivery of safe and quality care. Moreover, this also encompasses the aim for continuity of patient care.
Through good communication among health care professionals, all treatment plans are correctly implemented by all members of the team, specifically the nurse. This includes simple administration of medicines, monitoring of vital signs, and so on. The carried out care is then communicated to all members of the team through a complete and accurate documentation. Effective communication prevents conflicts in the workplace. Moreover, it helps build teamwork and collaboration among health care professionals, which is crucial in safe and quality care.
Communication is present in all the required roles and functions of a nurse. Good communication allows the nurse to perform his tasks correctly, which results in quality health care and patient satisfaction. Communication is also present in the elements needed by the nurse to carry out effective health care, such as good nurse-patient relationship, continuity of care, and professional relationships. Indeed, communication underlies all the processes that a nurse undergo and without it, the nurse will not be able to function effectively leading to failure of effective nursing care.
- Anderson, M.A. & Helms, L.B. “Talking about patients: communication and continuity of care.” The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing 14.3 (2000): 15-28. Web. 7 May 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10756471
- College of Registered Nurses in British Columbia. Nursing Documentation.
- Leach, M. J. “Rapport: A Key to Treatment Success.” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice [online]
- Markova, T. & Broome, B. “Effective communication and delivery of culturally competent health care.” Urologic Nursing 27.3 (2007):239-242.
- Stuart, G.W. & Laraia, M.T. Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing. 8th ed. St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby, 2005. Print.
- Timmons, K. “Communication is essential to continuity of care.” Medical Tourism Magazine: Your guide to international medicine. Medical Tourism Magazine.