This is a lot of background noise, for

This assignment will be discussing the importance of
communication and team work within a health care environment. It will also
highlight the barriers in which health care professionals and other individuals
must overcome to deliver effective communication in relation to verbal and
non-verbal, language barriers and impairments, and others. This assignment will
explain how team work is executed within a health care environment as well as
working as part of a team with other members of society, such as police, social
workers and health visitors to maintain the safety and wellbeing of a patient.
Both topics will be linked back to a practical experience and backed up with
relevant theories and references to provide a balanced argument on how and why
they are important.


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Communication is a two-way process in which individuals
exchange information as well as create ideas and meaning. Communication is a
way of connecting with people and places, whereas in a health care environment,
it is one of the main functions, without it an organisation cannot operate
between departments, employees or patients. The main skill that a health care
professional needs to work effectively is the ability to understand and
communicate with others. Communication skills are vital as they enable health
care professionals to understand the needs of others regarding their social,
emotional, physical and intellectual development. Also, to be a competent care
professional you need to be able to learn about individuals and listen to what
they have to say verbally as well as observe their body language.

Environmental impacts can also influence the effectiveness
of communication. For example, if the lighting is either too dim or too bright,
it can cause distress for those within that environment. If the lighting is too
dim, it can create a negative atmosphere and can make the patient feel depressed
or lack self-esteem. Alternatively, if the lighting is too bright, it can cause
more health problems for the patients involved. If the patient has a history of
either epilepsy or migraines, lighting which is too bright can distress them.
In this type of situation, the health care professionals should ask the
patients whether the lighting is suitable for them, if not, how would they like
it altered? Would they like it turned down or up, regarding on their medical
history and how they are feeling.

Other environmental impacts could include background noise
and the health care professional speaking from too far away. If there is a lot
of background noise, for example, if the patient is in a busy waiting room i.e.
Accident and Emergency, the health care professional should ideally take them
to a side room where there is minimal noise – this will then make the delivery
of the communication more effective as the patient can fully understand what
the health care professional is saying. If this did not happen, the patient
could become agitated due to them not understanding and not hearing what the
health care professional is saying. It could also lead to the patient feeling
unappreciated and believing that their health is not important. Furthermore, if
a health care professional is speaking from too far away, it can affect the
delivery of the communication as the patient involved could already have a
hearing impairment. If this was the case, the patient would find it very hard
to grasp what the health care professional is saying. Again, this would could
make the patient angry or concerned. Within a health care environment, the
professionals involved with patients should always talk with a calm and
soothing tone, and should sit relatively close to the patient for them to
understand the full extent of what they are saying. If, for any reason, the
patient did not catch a certain word or sentence the health care professional
had said, it is then the health care professionals job to reiterate what they
had previously said.

If there is a patient who has a hearing impairment, for
example if they have a hearing aid, it would then be the health care
professionals job to make the patient feel comfortable by not shouting and                                                 
ensuring that their face is visible so that those who can lip read, are
able to. Using pictures and writing messages are acceptable if the health care
professionals ask the patients first and making sure that they are aware of
what is happening. If needed, there are health care professionals who can
communicate through sign language (Makaton or British Sign Language). Again,
the patient should always be informed about changes before they are made.

Being able to understand non-verbal communication is
important within a health care environment as you can often tell how people are
feeling by observing their body language. People can express how they are
feeling using their eyes, tone of voice, facial expression and body posture. It
is essential that health care professionals can judge when a patient is either
in pain, distress or are showing volatile behaviours. This is necessary as many
patients are unable to verbally communicate due to mental and physical
illnesses, therefore being able to observe a patient is a key skill which
health care professionals need to fulfil their daily duties. If health care
professionals were unable to observe a patient’s body language, it could result
in mistreatment or more pain for the patient. If a health care professional is
carrying out an examination on a patient who has just had surgery, they could
be hurting that patient but not realise it as they cannot read their body
language. Therefore, in this type of situation there should always be more than
one professional in the room when performing an examination to ensure that the
patients needs are being heard as well as observed.

Michael Argyle (1925 – 2002) was a social psychologist who
researched and created theories about communication and interpersonal
interaction. Argyle stated in 1967 that communication is typically a two-way
process which refers to two individuals sending and responding to each other’s
verbal and non-verbal communication. In 1972, Argyle developed the
“Communication Cycle” theory, which initially predicts how communication occurs
between individuals in one-to-one situations. The cycle is when we understand
what is being said, reflect and then send our feedback to the individual we are
communicating with. Therefore, within a health care environment, when communicating
with patients, the health care staff must ensure that the message they are
sending is clear and that the patients understand what is being said for them
to respond accordingly. The “Communication Cycle” consists of;

An idea occurs – This is when an individual
creates an idea that they want to communicate about. In a hospital environment,
a doctor or a nurse will think about how they will communicate with their
patients based off their patient files. This enables them to communicate more
effectively and efficiently as they have considered any barriers to

Message coded – This is when the professionals
plan what they are going to say and how they are going to say it. They will
also decide whether any aids are necessary, for example, if sign language is
needed or if spoken word is enough.

Message sent – The message has been sent through
the agreed form of communication. For example, through sign language,
pictures/writing or gestures.

Message received – This is when the
patient/individual takes in what the message said.

Message decoded – This means that the individual
or patient has understood what the health care professional has said, they will
use their body language or gestures to show this. For example, constant eye
contact, nodding or smiling.

Message understood – The patient or individual
can now give feedback which then repeats the process of the communication

There are a few factors which can influence the
effectiveness of the communication cycle, for example, the initial idea may not
be planned in thought before the actual conversation. This can alter the
message and make it seem unclear to the individual on the receiving end. Also,
the message being sent may be too complex for the other individual to
understand, this could be due to jargon being used. Within a health care
environment, professionals need to be careful when using jargon, this is
because many individuals may not understand what is being said. In an ideal
situation, health care professionals should try different ways of saying things
and try to make sense of sounds or words people do not seem to understand. It
is also important to talk in short, clear sentences to avoid using jargon.

A health care professional may understand other people’s
emotions by observing their non-verbal communication, but they cannot
understand what a patient is thinking without being a good listener. A health
care professional must look interested and ready to listen before the skill
becomes effective. They must ensure that they hear everything which is said,
and take notes if needed (only with the patient’s consent), remember what has
been said and ensuring that they understood everything by repeating what the
patient had said. By doing this, the patient will feel more comfortable and
able to talk freely to that health care professional in the future about any
concerns they may have. It will also make that patient feel valued.

Visual impairments are also barriers to communication as
some patients may be unable to read specific documents, such as appointment
letters. Visual impairments can include, blindness, cataract, near sightedness
and Diabetic Retinopathy. Whenever a patient with a visual impairment comes
into a health care environment, the professionals should use conversation to describe
what is around them and important details about their medical conditions.
Professionals should also help those with visual impairments to touch things,
i.e. if that individual feels comfortable touching faces for them to recognise
those around them. Health care professionals should also check what visual
impaired people can see, this is because many registered blind people can see
shapes or tell the difference between light and dark. The health care
professionals should also ensure that visual aids, such as glasses are being
worn and that they are clean.

Misunderstandings have an influence on the effectiveness of
communication as they often lead to confusion and misinterpretation, this is
because individuals with different ethnic or cultural backgrounds may not have
the same medical terminology, techniques or equipment. This can ultimately lead
to unnecessary stress or worry. Therefore, health care staff should be
perceptive towards different cultural interpretations. Due to
misunderstandings, individuals can become angry or excited quite quickly,
therefore, in this instance it is important that the professionals involved
stay calm and approach the subject differently. Depending on the patient, the
correct form of communication is vital. If a patient is friendly and knows
their doctor or nurse very well, then informal communication is acceptable on a
professional basis. However, if a patient does not know their doctor or health
care professional, then formal communication should be used until a comfortable
atmosphere has been created.

Individuals who have special needs can face communication
barriers within the community as people may find it difficult to start a conversation
with them, or the individuals themselves may be unable to process the
information which is being sent to them via verbal communication. For example,
when individuals have a severe learning disability or illness, such as
dementia, it is not always possible to communicate with them. In this instance,
care services can employ an advocate for that individual. An advocate is
someone who speaks on behalf of someone else if that individual cannot express
what they would want or need. Within a health care setting, if there is a
patient with a serious illness, they may have their parents, guardians,
children or another next of kin to communicate their needs and wants as they
understand that patient’s mannerisms and personal gestures. Advocates are there
so that they can argue the patient’s rights without being stopped by what the
medical staff think is the easiest and cheapest way.

The care value base is about improving the patient’s quality
of life by considering their intellectual, emotional, social and physical
needs. As providing care is at the heart of every health care service,
professionals should help patients to take control or stay in control of their
lives, they should treat patients with respect and dignity, patients should
feel valued and listened to. The care values attempt to decide the key
principles that guide health care professionals on how they should behave.

Another barrier to communication is when patients or service
users become aggressive or start to complain. When a patient starts to complain
or start to show volatile behaviours, health care professionals should consider
the reasons for this. Are they in pain? Have they been waiting for long? There
will always be a reason for the actions and emotions that they are showing.
Health care professionals should stay calm and try to diffuse the situation by
talking to the patient/service user and ensuring them that their query or issue
will be dealt with accordingly. Another reason why a patient or service user
would become aggressive or start to complain could be because they have a
family member or friend that they are worried about. In this instance, a health
care professional can then lead them to that individual’s room, and can discuss
and update that patient or service user depending on the relationship with the
individual. Health care staff are trained to be able to help any service users,
whether they are showing aggressive behaviours or not.

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