Communication is Critical in Home Care – Ottawa

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communication1Perhaps you have experienced a situation in health care where poor communication compromised the effectiveness of the care being provided.

For example, a stay in the hospital can become very confusing when it seems you are being cared for by several different doctors and nurses, and none of them seem to be communicating with each other. This can easily happen due to poor organization and planning. Lines of communication become crossed, or are seemingly non-existent.

That is why it is crucial to take matters into your own hands and take a proactive approach to effective communication.

This can be achieved by laying out your health care and home care objectives, and then constructing a workable plan.

Home Care Objectives

You can start by asking yourself “What do I hope to get out my home care situation?”. From there, you can make a plan for sharing this information with family members, caregivers, doctors, and other health care professionals.

Some examples of reasonable objectives, may be:

  • Lead a more independent lifestyle
  • Improve and manage health problems
  • Build strength and flexibility
  • Increase social activity
  • Sharpen mental acuity

Everyone has different goals and aspirations; it is important to determine yours to get the most out of your home care.

Effects of Poor Communication

When the lines of communication are disorganized or blocked, problems can arise and home care solutions can become ineffectual.

Miscommunication can lead to the wrong treatments being administered, medication mix-ups, and more serious issues.

Some possible reasons for poor communication, may be:

  • Ambiguous details or instructions
  • Cognitive decline on behalf of patient makes understanding difficult
  • Incorrect interpretation of message
  • Hearing loss or medication effects may impair understanding
  • Complex or technical language used in explanations
  • Spoken words contradict body language

Preparing questions and concerns before a visit with a doctor or caregiver can really help. Also, accompaniment from a loved can be essential useful to clear up misunderstandings.

Tips for Better Communication

There are several approaches to opening a clear line of communication between everyone involved in your loved one’s health care.

Some effective tips, may be:

  • Create a list of goals and objectives
  • Make a list of health problems and symptoms
  • Take notes
  • Ask for clarification
  • Make informed, shared decisions

Goals and Objectives

First things first, is important to make a list of your goals and objectives in home care. Just putting these ideas down on paper can make it easier to communicate them with family members, caregivers, and other members of your health care team.

Health Problems and Symptoms

Preparing in advance for a doctor’s appointment can help you get the most out of your visit. Make a list of any recent and relevant symptoms, as well as any ongoing health issues.

This way, the list can be shared with the doctor at the beginning of the meeting, and it could help make an informed and accurate diagnosis.

A list of medications being taken, as well as any side effects, is also extremely helpful.

Take Notes

Having a family member present to take notes during the appointment is useful to prevent confusion and the inability to recall information after the fact.

This can also help to deal with any further questions that come up during the appointment.

Good planning and note taking can help ensure the most important issues get dealt with first, as sometimes there is not enough time to deal with everything during one appointment.

Ask for Clarification

Do not be afraid to speak up if there is something you do not understand, or you need further clarification on a certain point.

Do not worry about being too demanding, after all this is your health we are talking about.

Some good questions to ask, might be:

  • How will this diagnosis impact my current situation?
  • Are there any possible side effects to medications or treatments?
  • Are there alternative treatments available?
  • Is there any more information or resources available?
  • Are there are any lifestyle changes that would benefit the treatments?

Make Informed and Shared Decisions

On the biggest benefits of good communication is the ability to make informed and collaborative decisions.

When all members of the family and health care team are on the same page, it makes it easier to arrive at a decision that is good for everyone involved.

When seniors become more involved in decisions about their health, they often feel like they have more control over the outcome.

Taking an active role in improved health generally means a greater effort and interest in seeing positive results.

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