Communication is an integral part of health and social care service, where improvement in health is achieved through one-on-one interaction with clients. Effective communication process helps social care workers to establish positive relationship with colleagues, management and families, receive and apply information in the right manner and promote well-being of people. Health and social care organization have their own communication process irrespective of type of services provided (Moss 2017). However, the communication process is influenced by values and cultures and relevant legislation and code of practice related to health and social care. The main purpose of this report is to provide an insight into the impact of value, cultures and legislation on the communication process and determine the need for
Factors influencing the communication process in health and social care:
Effective collaboration between different members in a health and social care setting plays a role in integrating services and providing support to clients on the right time. The communication process becomes a complex process because of the difference in values and cultures of individual staffs and clients (Moss 2017). The values and cultural factors related to age, beliefs, sexuality, gender, education and social class differs for different individuals and their individual values and beliefs influence the communication process (Betancourt et al. 2016). Hence, as different cultures are mixing, the demand for cross-cultural communication has increased. This is particularly important to avoid misinterpretation of message and use communication skills to provide the best of the care environment to different clients.
Responding to clients based on their cultural values and preference is essential to improve client’s satisfaction with care. The culture of an individual can be assessed by means of values, norms, cognitive ability, behaviour and self-perceptions. Based on these differences, behaviour and actions of an individual may differ. Unless health and social care staffs have inherent communication skills to engage in culturally sensitive communication, chances of misinterpretation, use of inappropriate language and breach of confidentiality while responding to client is likely to be high. Non-verbal gestures and signs of individual client may have different meaning and health and social care staffs should have the ability to understand signs and body language of client to avoid errors and conflict situation (Jeffreys 2015). News staffs should be encouraged to take training in health and social care communication so that each staffs can comply with communication procedure of health and social care setting and deal with inappropriate interpersonal communication (Betancourt et al. 2016).
Impact of legislation, charters and codes of practice on communication in health and social care:
The communication process in health and social care setting is guided by relevant national legislations, charters and codes of practice. They play a role in fulfilling data protection and confidentiality requirement in health and social care. Some examples of legislations relevant to health and social care service include Equality Act 2010, Data Protection Act 1988 and the Access of Health Records Act 1990. Examples of Charters include CQC and Department of Health Information Charter. Complying with theses legislation and charters are essential during the communication process to ensure that data protection issues are avoided and reliability of data input is enhanced. For example, the Data Protection Act 1988 is a legislation related to protecting personal data stored on computer or any other system. The Data Protection Act 1988 is applied in health and social care setting to increase awareness of staffs regarding their responsibility to use personal data of clients by following the ‘data protection’ principles (Brazier and Cave 2016). During the communication process, as health and social care staffs need to use personal data of client, the legislation can help to maintain client’s record in an ethical manner.
The Data Protection Act 1988 is a legislation that supports social workers to maintain confidentiality during information exchange. Another legislation that is applied to facilitate effective communication process in health and social care includes the Equality Act 2010 which provides protection against discrimination to people irrespective of age, marriage, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation, pregnancy and marriage partnership. This Act enables health and social care workers to respect diversity and promote equal and fair access to health and social care service for all. Equality and diversity is an essential element of the communication process and all necessary information are provide to client to ensure that diverse needs of clients are met (Thompson 2016). Any communication barriers due to diversity can be addressed with the application of includes the Equality Act 2010.
The personal information charter is also a guiding document that influences communication process in health and social care. This enables staffs to handle personal information in line with privacy notice and provide accurate information to client. To provide positive experience to clients while interacting with health and social care staffs, health and social care setting also comply with the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adults Social Care Workers. It defines the conduct or behaviour expected from health care support workers and clarifies newly placed staffs regarding the attitude needed to provide safe and guaranteed care and support (Hepworth et al. 2016). These legislations and charters provide a resource to eliminate conflict and enter into communication with client in a reliable and ethical manner.
Effectiveness of organisational system and policies in promoting good practice:
Good practice in health and social care setting includes complying with national legislation and organizational procedures to ensure that record, report, store and share information in a professional and ethical manner to promote well-being of client. The organizational structure, documentation process, practice guidelines and work cultures are organizational systems that support health care professionals to promote good practice in communication. These systems have been useful in identifying sources of conflicts, promoting effective professional behaviour and reducing misunderstanding in practice (Baldwin 2016). Organizational system also incorporates legislations and policies in communication and documentation procedure to strengthen organizational values and improve the quality of service. Implementation of unique communication practice adds value to the service and creates better relationship between service users and staffs.
Despite the effectiveness of organizational systems in promoting good practice and protecting client, one limitation that results in conflict with clients or issues of dissatisfaction with care includes the little emphasis on regularly updating organization procedures and evaluating adverse outcomes or complaints in a regular basis. Due to this limitation, old practices and guidelines set from the beginning exist and good practice cannot be sustained for a long period of time. Such limitations in organization procedure have a direct impact on the quality of service and the nature of relationship with clients and service providers. It creates a gap between care organization and the service user and comes in the way of developing positive relationship with clients (Gorli et al. 2017). Hence, there is a need to update organizational procedures on a regular basis and be accountable for the safety of clients with special needs.
The scenario of a complaint made by a service user regarding inappropriate communication practice by a staff also reflects limitation in organizational practice. It happened because all staffs were not updated regarding ways to communicate with service user with different health and social care needs. To address the issue faced by the client, one action that can be implemented to further improve organizational systems include updating communication manuals and providing staffs with new and updated communication practice list so that all needs of clients with disability or special illness can be addressed. Regular training of staffs can be arranged to deliver better and client-centred care (Glasby 2017).
The report summarized the role of communication process in health and social care with discussion on impact of culture, values, legislations and organization systems. The discussion related to the impact of legislation and policies indicates that organizational communication is strengthened by providing support to address unique communication needs. By taking this approach, limitation in current practice can be addressed and appropriate resource can be allocated to provide additional support to workers in meeting unique communication needs of individual clients.
Information booklet on use and benefits of information and communication (ICT) in health and social care
Overview about ICT software in health care:
ICTs are crucial tool to provide support to health care staffs regarding gaining access to technological solution for communication within health and social care environment. ICTs are range of electronic tools that promotes communication and information sharing process in health care. The main purpose of information processing and exchange of information is to promote health, manage illness and treat disease (Wildevuur and Simonse 2015). In the health care sector, the main ICTs can provide support in the following areas of communication:
- Collecting and monitoring patient’s information
- Text messaging and updating client
- Diagnosing health and social care issues
- Providing treatment from distant areas
- Retrieving electronic health record
Figure 1: An ICT tool used in health care
The main advantage of using ICTs in health and social care is that it has reduced communication gap in health care by providing innovative ways to access, share and store information. It has reduced the barrier to communication process between health care professionals and service users. Another reason for wide application of ICTs is the potential to promote patient-centered health care and at minimum cost too. It mitigates any issues faced by remote services users in accessing the service and reduces travel time related in utilizing health and social care service (Rouleau, Gagnon and Côté 2015).
Figure 2: Different types of benefit of ICT tool
Some examples of ICT tools in health and social care include the following:
Spreadsheets: As the job a health and social worker is to communicate with client, use of ICT tools help them to track their information on time. Use of ICTs like simple spreadsheets helps in maintaining a collection of different client information.
EMR: Electronic Medical Records are tools to manage client care and collaborate on documents.
Database: Many online databases and web-based source also helps in exchange of information between services user.
Benefits of ICT to users
Users of ICT get the following benefits from ICT tools:
One of the most vital advantages of ICT tool in health care is that it helps a nurses to remain independent and not depend on others to implement nursing action. By going through patient details and other updates on ICT tool, engaging in quick decision making process for the safety of patient has become easier for nurses. Research evidence by Haluza and Jungwirth (2015) argues that ICT facilitated users to become autonomous and take better control of their lives. Research participants experienced benefits from e-health support and the research proved the fact that ICT has a positive impact on independence, autonomy and self-development of users.
ICT has played a role in improving communication process too. Communication between patient and health care professionals increases efficiency in the care process and reduce administrative cost. An ICT tools that give updates on patient health status and facilitates communication between patient and others are vital for safety at hospital and primary care interface. By easier access to patient data and faster communication process through the use of ICT, lot of time is saved in various types of clinical care activities. Health care industry has gained both financial and non-financial gain from ICTs (Andreassen, Kjekshus and Tjora 2015).
Accuracy of records:
In the past, maintaining patient’s records and other health information was a burdensome task leading to many errors during the documentation. However, with the advent of electronic health records, ICT users are able to maintain accurate records of patient. This type of tools has saved valuable time of nurses and improves the accuracy of patient’s record. Many ICT technologies enable nurse to directly review patient’s information on mobile phones. Valuable time of nurses is saved due to the presence of ICT in health care setting (Achampong 2012). Accuracy of the complete health record in turn helps to maintain integrity of patient’s information. It promotes clinical administration through the optimization of clinical pathways. Maintaining integrity and completeness of patient data is critical to enhance the quality of care (Vimalachandran et al. 2016).
Meeting client needs:
ICT tools also gives nurse the opportunity to meet client needs by all means. For example, many reminder systems like automated alarms and SMS function provides weekly or day to day reminder to nurses regarding patient updates or upcoming care needs. This allows the nurse to avoid delay in care and meet specific care needs of patient. In this way, it can be said that ICT is successful in improving patient’s outcome and increasing patient’s satisfaction with care.
Figure 3: Use of ICT to improve patient’s satisfaction with care
Efficiency of the process:
The quality of care in health care setting is dependent on patient safety, effectiveness and efficiency dimension. The advantage of ICT for service user is that with the use of ICT tools like CDS (Computer Decision Support) and EHRs (Electronic Health Records), it has been possible to deliver high quality and effective care. This can be said because CDS tools increases access to all patient’s information in a timely manner. It also increases adherence to clinical practice guidelines. Adhering to the guidelines improve the likelihood of positive patient outcome and makes the care more effective (Menachemi and Collum 2011).
Figure 4: Use of electronic health record in health care
Benefits of ICT to organization:
By the implementation of various advanced ICT tools, health care organizations are reaping several benefits now. It has supported health care organizations to support service improvement in the following ways:
Promoting accountability in care:
Implementation of advanced ICT tool has played a role in promoting accountability in care. Implementation of e-governance in different public health services has empowered citizens and promoted transparency in care.
Meeting requirements of other agencies:
Development of updated ICT tools as per patient’s need has helped health care organization to meet the requirement of other agencies and clients. Collaboration and partnership with other associated agencies has helped to maintain health care resource and effectively manage economic and financial dimensions in health care setting (Miah et al., 2017).
Figure 5: Role of the governing bodies in accountability
Efficiency and quality of service:
Another advantage of ICT for health care organization is that it is affected the way health care service is delivered to clients. ICT has driven down health care cost and promoted effectiveness of health care services through excellent support in disease management. It has improved patient safety and decision support for health care practitioners too (Ammenwerth and Rigby 2016).
Benefit of ICT to care workers:
Meet all kinds of demands in health care service:
The implementation of ICT tools like e-health and mobile applications has supported health care workers to meet quality, security and efficiency related demands. Retrieving patient’s information and keeping in contact with patient has become easier with ICT tool. Regular contact with patients also helps to track progress and promote positive outcome for patient (Fagerström et al. 2017).
Reduction of workload and burden:
ICT tools like electronic health record and computer decision support tools have the potential to reduce work burden. However, to obtain full benefits from ICT technology, proper training regarding effective use of different tools among health care workers is necessary. As different staff experience different reduction in burden, there is a need to focus on developing skills related to disease management and ordering/reviewing task (Howard et al. 2013).
Legal considerations in using ICT
Data protection and confidentiality:
In accordance with the Data Protection Act 1988, protecting personal information stored on computer is necessary. Hence, to consider introduction and use of ICT in health care setting, it is essential to maintain privacy and confidentiality requirement of clients. All care staffs must be made aware regarding the obligation to protect patient’s information while managing patient’s information in electronic health device or other tools (Carey 2009).
Health and safety:
Another legal consideration regarding the use of ICT is to promote health and safety of patient and take all necessary precaution to avoid harm to patient. To avoid harm to patient, it is essential that ICT tool is relevant to the service needs and contextual demands of particular health care setting.