Effectively Communicating Residents’ Care Needs

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Published: 07 November 2021

Effective communication and information management within an aged care organisation mean that residents only need to tell their stories once instead of repeating themselves to each staff member they interact with.

By ensuring that all people involved in a resident’s care are informed about the resident’s condition, needs, goals and preferences, the workforce will be able to coordinate their care in a way that improves outcomes for all parties involved (ACQSC 2021).

On the other hand, if information about residents is not effectively communicated between staff, care mistakes and, in severe cases, harm to residents, can occur. As well as being detrimental to residents, this can also lead to reduced trust in the care team and additional stress for staff (AHRQ 2017).

In order to effectively transfer information between members of the care team, sound internal communication processes and information management systems are required within the organisation (ACQSC 2021).

There is no single universal process that all aged care providers must follow, but it’s important that the method chosen by the organisation is efficient and appropriate (ACQSC 2021).

Effectively communicating residents’ care needs within an organisation is a requirement under Standard 4 of the Aged Care Quality Standards: Services and Supports for Daily Living.

When Does Information About Residents Need to be Communicated?

There are a variety of situations where information about residents might need to be communicated between members of the care team. Examples include:

  • If a regular member of the resident’s care team changes
  • During staff handover
  • If the resident is admitted to hospital or a specialist service
  • When two or more organisations are communicating about a resident
  • If the resident’s condition, needs, goals or preferences change.

(ACQSC 2021)

The Benefits of Effective Communication

Ensuring that all people involved in a particular resident’s care understand the resident’s condition, needs, goals and preferences has several benefits, including:

  • Improved safety, effectiveness and consistency of care
  • Reduced risk of harm to the resident
  • An improved care experience for the resident
  • A care experience that reflects the resident’s preferences
  • Increased resident satisfaction
  • Improved staff morale and productivity
  • Reduced risk of mistakes being made by staff
  • Strengthening of the organisation’s commitment to its mission.

(ACQSC 2021; CareVision 2021)

Privacy and Consent

Always remember to comply with relevant privacy legislation when gathering and sharing residents’ personal information (ACQSC 2021).

You must also gain informed consent from residents before sharing their information with others (ACQSC 2021).

More information about privacy and consent can be found in the Ausmed Articles below:

Teamwork

Teamwork is a crucial part of effective communication and is associated with positive care outcomes.

The following four components of teamwork have been found to reduce errors in care:

  1. Ensuring every member of the care team understands the protocols and plans being used
  2. Advocating for residents and creating an environment where staff feel comfortable speaking up if they believe a resident is at risk
  3. Understanding residents’ care plans and prioritising the right tasks
  4. Cross-monitoring staff for errors and correcting if necessary.

(Health.vic 2015)

Other important principles of teamwork include:

  • Holding regular team meetings
  • Using language that everyone understands
  • Maintaining thorough documentation
  • Understanding who is part of the care team at any given time
  • Establishing shared goals to be understood and supported by all members of the care team
  • Ensuring each staff member has clear roles and responsibilities
  • Mutual trust and respect between staff members
  • Ensuring communication between staff is tailored, open, honest and respectful.

(Health.vic 2015; ACSQHC 2021)

Effectively Communicating Residents’ Care Needs staff team meeting

How Can Aged Care Organisations Facilitate Effective Communication?

  • Provide consistent services and supports and continuity of care
  • Coordinate services and supports effectively
  • Ensure all staff have correct and up-to-date information about residents
  • Ensure all staff have a clear understanding of information-sharing and consent legislation and policies
  • Provide training and orientation to support staff to effectively coordinate care
  • Establish an information management system that complies with relevant legislation and privacy requirements
  • Actively communicate with internal and external parties to ensure supports and services are provided without interruption
  • Monitor how staff manage and follow-up on information, including information gaps, pending and missing information
  • Allow relevant staff access to resident records
  • Communicate important information about residents to other service providers when necessary.

(ACQSC 2021)

Conclusion

In order to provide safe and effective care, aged care organisations need to ensure that information about a resident’s condition, needs, goals and preferences is effectively communicated between members of the care team as well as other parties that share responsibility for the resident’s care.

This will prevent residents from constantly needing to remind staff of their needs, as well as reduce the risk of mistakes and harm from occurring.

Additional Resources


References

Test Your Knowledge

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True or false: As a general rule, you must gain informed consent from a resident before sharing information about them with others.

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