Section 5 – Communication Skills and Interpersonal Relations


A nursing assistant must have excellent communication skills. They need to be able to master the basic elements of physical care for a patient while also being able to communicate with the resident (on top of other members of the healthcare community). This will help improve the overall level of care given to a patient.

Principles of Communication

There will always be different levels of communications required within a healthcare community. The nursing assistant needs to keep these different practices and principles in mind. There are different levels of communication here. This includes basic messages received at the beginning of a shift to communicating potential problems and issues with those next up in the line of command. Within the line of communication, there are three components, including the message, the sender, and the receiver.

A nursing assistant must be able to respect a person they are communicating with. They must also display respect for the person. When conversing with a patient, the NA must be open and supportive. This also helps the patient and his or her family make educated decisions based on their own medical treatment. It is important for the nursing assistant to not make them feel uneasy or to insert themselves into the opinion of the patient and their family. The nursing assistant needs to set their own goals for a specific day with the healthcare goals of the team.

Types of Communication

There are a few different kinds of communication, including written, nonverbal and verbal. Naturally, verbal communication takes place when people are speaking with one another. This now includes conversing both in person and through video communication software and over a phone.

In the form of written communication, information is passed on through writing, digital messages (text messages, faxes, emails and instant messages) while nonverbal communication is body language and facial expressions.

Different Factors that Affect Communication

For the healthcare team to thrive, solid communication is important. To maintain excellent communication, a number of factors are present. First, do speakers talk (and understand) in the same language. Communities are quickly becoming increasingly diverse and multi-lingual. However, the inability to understand another person’s language can quickly cause communication problems. This will require the aid of a translator. From time to time, a family member can come in and translate. Additionally, cultural differences exist that may affect how someone talks, or who they can talk to.

It is important for a nursing assistant to be careful not to create additional nonverbal barriers. This includes having a smartphone in hand when working with a resident. Some residents will not like a medical professional having a phone in hand as they may believe a photograph is being taken of them. Additionally, it is best to not have a phone in hand when a resident is attempting to converse with the nursing assistant. It comes across as if the NA is not paying attention and doesn’t care, which prevents good communication.

There are also physical barriers that may take place during communication. This includes sensory impairments in the form of hearing, visual, speech or sensory. A resident might have certain cognitive issues that prevent them from understanding, or communicating, how they feel.

Therapeutic Communication

In order to overcome these barriers, therapeutic communication might be needed. This helps nursing assistants better communicate and work with patients.

Silence can be the best way to communicate with residents. An NA may offer him or herself to assist a resident without providing any kind of personal details, but instead by saying they have gone through something similar (or another form of sympathy). This doesn’t need to include personal information but it helps a nursing assistant connect with the patient. They can also ask the resident to provide their thoughts or to point out a theme in order to improve communication.

Talking with patients and asking how specific events made them feel is an excellent form of investigation. This provides the NA added information about the patient and what may be causing problems. Asking about how a person feels may improve conversation as well. Providing praise and making a patient feel important and cared for will improve communication as well. Every resident is different though so what works for some patients may not work for others.

Offering therapeutic communication can improve collaboration efforts between not only the nursing assistant and the resident, but the NA and other healthcare team members. All of this goes a long way in reducing potential barriers and to ensure the highest quality of communication, which in turn helps improve the level of care a patient receives.

PREVIOUS SECTIONS – CHAPTER 1

1. THE ROLE OF A NURSING ASSISTANT
2. PROMOTION OF PERSONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY
3. WORK PRIORITIZATION AND TIME MANAGEMENT
4. MEMBER OF HEALTH CARE TEAM

PRACTICE TESTS – CHAPTER 1

1. CNA PRACTICE TEST – BASIC NURSING SKILLS
2. CNA PRACTICE TEST – ROLE OF NURSING ASSISTANT

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