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Communication Strategies in COVID-19 Situations

Why is communication included in the clinical guideline? In this article we look good communication strategies in nursing.
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© University of Exeter

Why is communication included in the clinical guideline?

Helping people with their fundamental care needs is underpinned by the relationship we develop between nurses and the people we care for. To build this relationship takes communication.

Nurses have told us that barriers to communication form the biggest difficulties for nursing patients with COVID-19. The ability to communicate with patients is a critically important tool in a nurses’ care skillset. The clinical guideline describes how we can adapt our communication skills in COVID-19 situations.

What is communication?

When we use the term communication, we are describing how we exchange information from one place or person to another. We can do this in four ways: using the spoken word (verbal communication), gestures or expressions (non-verbal communication), written words, and visual communication (pictures, signs or films for example).

Why is communication important?

Communicating with patients, our colleagues and significant other people in a patient’s life is essential for us to deliver the best care. We need to understand how the patient is feeling, what their care needs are, how they are responding to care. We need to explain what we will be doing and seek consent from patients and others for our actions. We use communication to develop a trusting relationship between patients and ourselves. We need to communicate with others in the team to ensure that patients’ needs are understood by everyone and that no mistakes are made in their care. Relatives and significant others will need to tell us about themselves, their loved ones and we too need to listen and communicate back to them.

Summary of Communication Strategies in COVID-19 Situations

Communication Between Nurses and Patients

  • Show AND Say: use both more verbal and non-verbal communication to show empathy and compassion
  • Loud and Clear: repeat verbal communication, check patient understanding of what you have said and adapt your communication style to individual patients’ preferences and current state of health
  • Who am I: communicate about who you are in pictures and words
  • Make it Count: use patient-to-nurse technology like texting to ensure patients communicate their needs in one go without nurses entering the room multiple times

Communication Between Nurses and Patients’ Relatives and Significant Others

  • Proactive Plan: identify a named health staff contact and a regular scheduled time for telephone or video communication with patients’ relatives and significant others
  • Password Protected: agree a password for relatives and significant others to use
  • Communicate to Advocate: agree an advocacy system for patients struggling to communicate their needs, beliefs and values

Communication Between Patients and their Relatives and Significant Others

  • Competence and Kit: assess options, availability and ability of patients and their relatives and significant others to use IT hardware and software
  • Time and Place: ask patients and their relatives and significant others to agree virtual visiting times

Communication Between Members of the Nursing Team and other Health Care Workers

  • In and Out: use technology to communicate from inside COVID rooms to staff outside
  • Chalk and Talk: use whiteboards to communicate patient care schedules and specific needs into and out of COVID-19 rooms

Read the ‘Communication’ section of the COVID-NURSE clinical guideline on pages 9-17 to learn more about these strategies.

© University of Exeter
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A Guide for Nurses on Meeting the Fundamental Care Needs of Patients in Hospital with COVID-19 and other Conditions

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