Describe an example of communication from your recent clinical experience and discuss the factors that contributed to its outcome
“Most people have felt anger and helplessness at not being listened to when saying something important. Also the intense frustration of being misunderstood…” Ellis, RB. (2003). Defining Communication. In: Ellis, RB, Gates, B, Kenworthy, N Interpersonal Communication in Nursing. 2nd ed. London: Churchill Livingstone. p3.
All names in this text have been changed, to respect the confidentiality of the patient and other healthcare professionals (NMC 2002).
I have recently been on 7 week placement in a nursing home for the elderly. It was a residential home but also had a small dementia unit in which patients with mental health problems were taken care of. This experience has taught me that communicating with elderly patients with dementia can be extremely difficult due to their loss of memory, language skills, lack of attention and general disorientation. In certain circumstances although the patients indicated that they wanted my attention I found it hard to understand what they wanted due to these communication barriers.
In my essay I begin by outlining what dementia is, what communication is and how important verbal and non verbal communication is to sufferers of dementia. Currently in the UK it is estimated that 700,000 people are suffering from dementia (BBC statistics)
Dementia is a condition that is connected with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. It is generally caused by damage to the structure of the brain and is most common in people over the age of 65. Thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgement are all affected in someone who has Dementia. Sufferers may also have problems in controlling their emotions and behaviour when in social situations. Due to this their personalities may appear to change.
There are 4 kinds of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Dementia with Lewy bodies and Front or temporal dementia. These 4 kinds were all present in patients in the dementia unit, where I spent 7 weeks; however I will be concentrating on Alzheimer’s.
Communication is commonly defined as “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs”. Although there is such a thing as one-way communication, communication is normally a two-way process in which there is an exchange and progression of thoughts, feelings or ideas towards a mutually accepted goal or understanding.
Communication is a process whereby information is imparted by a sender to a receiver via some medium. The receiver then decodes the message and gives the sender a feedback. All forms of communication require a sender, a message, and a receiver. Therefore communication requires a common medium. There are auditory means, such as speech, song, and tone of voice, and there are nonverbal means, such as body language, sign language, touch, eye contact, and writing. (Unknown Author (2000). Communication. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication#Communication_Modeling . Last accessed 2 Jan 2010)
All forms of communication verbal and non are used by a healthcare worker. With dementia sufferers, good non verbal communication is essential. (Argyle, 1978) believes that non verbal communication can have five times as much effect on a person’s understanding of a message compared to the verbal communication at the time.