* Understand the meaning of communication

* Learn the three basic ways of communicating

* Be aware of what we communicate

* Learn the basic rules of communication

* Be able to discuss the role of culture in communication

* Recognize the impact of our communication on others


Communication means exchanging information with others. We exchange information about feelings, opinions, or facts. People let others know how they feel or what they want all day an even during the night. You can tell if your friend, supervisor, or client is happy, in pain, sad or bored. They can tell the same about you!

You can tell if a sleeping client is in pain or resting comfortably. Communication takes place in several ways: through verbal exchange, written words, and through body language or nonverbal methods. Communication is necessary so that people function together – in other words, so they can “get along”. Developing the ability to get along with people, clients, visitors and fellow workers IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR JOB. Being a good communicator is essential

Verbal Communication – exchange of ideas or information through spoken works. The tone of your voice, the speed at which you speak, your inflection, and your actual choice of words are all part.

Written Communication – anytime your write or draw, you are communicating. The neatness, legibility, the choice of works and how you give the written work to the reader sets the scene for how it is received. When documenting the care or tasks completed, employees must always remember to sign their name and title.

Nonverbal Communication – your body language. As much as 90% of communication can be through our nonverbal cues. No words can be spoken but a clear message is given and received by others.

Body language includes:

-The way we do or do not look at people
-The way we stand, with our hands in pockets, on hips or at our sides

-Where we stand, close to the person or far away

-What else we may be doing at the time, on our phones, reading, folding laundry

Basic Rules for Communication –

Be a nonjudgmental observer and listener. It is important to learn to receive information in a nonjudgmental way; that is in an accepting manner without expressing your opinions. When you work in a client’s home, they often ask your opinion. If you are not sure or you think your opinion will be upsetting or cause friction, you might say, “This is your house and here it is more important how you feel about this situation than how I feel.”

Be a Careful Listener. Always listen when someone speaks to you. Listen to what the person says. Listen to what information is left out of the conversation. Listen for the speaker’s tone of voice and his breathing patterns. Is it fast? Is it slow and slurred? Does it make sense? Is it appropriate to ask questions? Listen to what the speaker says, not what you think he says. Pay special attention when a client gives a complaint or brings up a problem. Sometimes it is helpful to write down important information as you hear it. Do not always trust your memory.

Be Sensitive. Sometimes the client does not want to talk, respect their moods. Saying nothing may have more meaning then any words or facial expressions on your part. Sometimes a pat on the shoulder or hand means more to a client then anything you can say.

Be Courteous and Tactful. Courtesy means being polite, Tact means being considerate of others/doing and saying the right thing at the right time. Never be critical or impolite. If you are not clear as to what you have heard, you can summarize what you “think” you heard and ask the speaker if that is correct.

Emotional Control. Sometimes a client or a visitor can upset you. You feel like making a rude or nasty remark…DON’T DO IT! Remember, that the client is worried about themselves, their illness, or their family. Client or family stress levels may affect their ability to communicate and listen. Be sensitive to this. Speak in simple terms. Do not be upset if you must repeat yourself several times. Be understanding if they repeat themselves too. Lean to be patient and accept constructive criticism and suggestions from your patient, supervisor and coworkers. Remember, the end goal is only to provide the best possible care for the patients.

Using the Telephone. If you wear or carry a cell phone, put it on silent mode while you care for the client. If you receive a personal call, you can answer it after you leave the house. NEVER speak on your phone pertaining to personal issues while you are caring for a client. NEVER take a client’s picture. NEVER discuss one client while at another’s home. This is an unacceptable invasion of privacy and is a violation of HIPAA and could subject you to disciplinary action as well as criminal/civil charges.

Relationships with clients. You may spend more time with the client than anyone. Often you are the only person a client will see all day. As a result, it is easy to see how some clients will develop a very strong attachment to you. This may make you feel good. However, keep in mind that ultimately you may be harming your clients progress towards independence.

Therefor it is important you maintain professional boundaries with all clients and families. This means that while you provide care in a friendly manner, it is important to not become too emotionally involved. Indications that your too involved; spending extra time off the clock with your clients, thinking you are the only person that can provide care to your client, or developing feelings of friendship.

Family and Visitors. Staff are to NEVER have visitors while at patient’s house, however, the patients themselves may have visitors.

Tips for dealing with patient visitors.

-Listen to visitors. Whether it is a suggestion, a complaint, or “passing the time of day,” listen. Some suggestions by visitors can be very helpful in providing care.

-Do not get involved in family affairs. Never take sides in family quarrel.

-If a visitor asks you a question about your client, politely say that you “do not feel comfortable answering on behalf of the client and that they may want to ask the client for this information”. If not careful, this could become a HIPAA violation.

-Visitors may arrive at the house and give you orders: “While I’m here to watch Mama, you clean the bathroom.” Be open about your responsibilities. Explain that your supervisor sets up the service plan and that you will need to discuss all changes with them.

Communication Quiz

True/False Circle One

1. Communication is an exchange of information.

2. We communicate in three ways. What are those ways?

3. When someone speaks to you, you should act as if you’re not interested?

4. Non-verbal communication is also called body language.

5. Your role as a home care provider is to sit around, watch TV, play on your phone, and eat the clients food.

Answer Key:

1. True

2. Verbal, Written, Non-Verbal or Body Language

3. False

4. True

5. False