Communication Skills Of CNA
The ability to express yourself verbally and in writing is a type of skill that you have to learn and apply in your career in the healthcare field. Moreover, creating a positive working relationship with co-workers and establishing interpersonal relationship with your assigned residents are important elements in an effective CNA practice.
Your effective communication skills should include active listening, documenting and responding to the needs of the residents especially when they have something to convey. Active listening means listening to the residents without getting yourself distracted by your personal thoughts, acknowledging them as human beings worthy of your attention. Observing is also a type of skill wherein you immediately know the unexpressed needs of the residents through their gestures or physical condition.
An effective verbal communication skill is when you speak clearly so that residents understand your thoughts; avoiding medical jargons, using open open-ended questions that avoids yes/no response, utilizing phrases that encourages further exploration of thoughts and feelings like “tell me more” and “so on” as well as clarifying messages that you do not understand such as “is this what you mean? And so on.
During your practice, communication barriers will most likely occur- that is why it is essential to know the right questions and avoid the common pitfalls. These are asking close-ended questions that enable a yes/no answer, talking to the resident using medical terminologies or a language that he/she cannot comprehend and responding the resident with sarcasm, criticism, and advice. Answering the resident with “Why?” or “You should/shouldn’t” is not only humiliating but enhances defensiveness and limits communication. This awkwardness and reluctance of communication is hazardous to the resident and can hinder an effective relationship. It is essential to recognize these communication barriers that might disrupt an effective interpersonal relationship to the residents and seek guidance from your immediate supervisor as much as possible in order to solve it right away.
If you encounter a resident whose language is not English or who struggles to comprehend your language, find an interpreter or a family member that can assist you in communicating the resident. Cultural barrier can hinder an effective communication especially if the resident has a different culture. Nonverbal cues such as avoiding eye contact might be observed by the resident as a form of disrespect or an offensive manner. Personal space like standing too close or too far to the resident, smiling or inappropriate facial expression, body posture and tone can be a barrier to an effective communication. Make sure that every move you make or every word you say is not confusing and will not create a gap between you and the resident. Respect should be observed at all times regardless of the resident’s colour, language, culture or practices. If you cannot respect yourself, you might not be able to respect others as well.
However, accepting your limitations and trying hard to enhance your communication skills are good steps of building meaningful relationships. A clear communication and interpersonal relationships will maintain the resident’s safety at all times. There are a number of stories about accidents or resident injuries caused by the nursing assistant’s failure to communicate properly. Examples are failure to give explanation to the immobile resident on the dangers of ambulating without assistance, misunderstanding or giving insufficient information to the family members about the resident’s right diet for diabetes or perhaps the resident get upset to the change of care plan because of the faulty interpretation on the instructions given by a nursing staff. Barriers to effective communication can also be linked to impairment of hearing, vision and other forms of sensory deficits.
Whenever you encounter a hearing-impaired resident, you have to speak slowly, clearly and directly to him/her in order to ensure that he or she understands the words you state. Providing large and readable printing materials to the resident having visual impairment helps a lot to a proper communication. Take note also that there are some residents who have decreased feeling to pain and any changes on the temperature. More information about working with residents having impairment will be discussed further in subsequent chapters.
The goal of every nursing assistant is to maintain safety and well-being of the residents. With this, reporting relevant conversation is necessary such as changes on the resident’s condition, important requests, concerns and evaluations regarding care, pertinent observations and safety considerations. Recording all pertinent observations, measurements and even personal care to the resident is important in all nursing assistant function. Charting and other sorts of documentation need knowledge and familiarity of medical terminologies, abbreviations, correct grammar and spelling, and computation skills. For instance, you need to have good mathematical skills in order to measure the intake and output of the resident in millilitres.
Recording “I & O” is accepted for charting and only factual recording is necessary because personal opinion is not relevant in communication. Since you want to assure the resident’s safety, you have to record and report immediately any responses of care or change in health condition. This should be done with the help of your supervisor because you need to provide accurate, objective and complete documentation. Remember, communicating too much is impossible.