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Communication Skills for Personal Support Workers

Personal Support Workers are a vital part of the Canadian Healthcare System. They provide a number of services to those individuals that are in need of care.

These workers perform duties such as basic housekeeping, hygiene assistance, transportation and more. The level of quality in which these services are delivered is inextricably bound to the quality of life that the patient will be able to experience.

Although PSW’s are not regulated by any particular government entity or organization, it is lucidly clear that these individuals must receive adequate training so that they are thoroughly equipped for the multitudinous responsibilities that they will face.

One of the major concerns about PSW’s, when it comes to competency, is the development of the capacity to effectively communicate.

Why is Communication So Important?

Communication skillsNo matter what role in life you are engaged in, communication is vital to insure effective interaction and fulfilment of responsibilities and obligations. As this is true in all areas of life, whether personal or business, it is especially true in the healthcare profession.

PSW’s are required to produce certain written material that requires that they be able to communicate clearly and succinctly a number of different facts. There are also times that they are required to execute good verbal communication skills.

With this in mind it is important that PSW’s get the proper training so that they can develop their communication skills.

The Expanse of Communication

Personal Support Workers are required to be execute a number communication skills, including:

– Plan and organize communications according to their purpose and audiences

– Incorporate content that is meaningful and necessary

– Ensure that the message conforms to the conventions of specific formatting (e.g. memo, email, weekly report, care plan, daily log, and formal presentation)

– Use language and style suitable to the audiences and purposes

Communication is distinctive in different genres, industries and mediums; the ability to organize thoughts and facts for the purpose of presenting them to others is vital to the successful execution of the PSW’s work.

The worker must be able to revise documents when errors in content and mechanics is evident, so that information is accurate and valid. They must be able to understand the importance of proper tone, pace and volume, so that the information they are communicating is received in the proper light.

Benefits of effective Communication

Effective listening and reading skill are imperative to understanding and communicating information to others as well.

They must also be able to do the following:

– Respond to verbal and non-verbal feedback in a precise manner

– Use and express proper tone and concern when dealing with the patient

– Insure that the communication skills and language used with the patient is appropriate for the patient’s needs

– Have the capability of providing an emotionally and physically safe environment which will be accomplished through effective communication with the client and their family

A Personal Support Worker has to be able to understand the impact that deficiencies in communication with the client has on their ability to provide effective and quality service. They must also be able to recognize when these deficiencies exist, and know how to deal with them. The ability to use effective communication skills will insure that the PSW is able to meet the needs of the patient.

Communication skills are also important when reporting to resource/charge nurses. It is necessary to provide information to the charge nurse in a manner that is accurate and apprehensive.

Clarity and Vernacular

It is extremely important that Personal Support Workers are able to communicate with others to insure clarity.

One way that clarity is insured is through the use of a universal vernacular. The terminology must be that which is specific to the particular issue being discussed. Because PSW deals with a number of different issues, such as house cleaning, transportation and hygiene, it may be a challenge to have one particular vernacular that will adequately address all situations, but there has to be a common ground on which communication is carried out.

There is no doubt that proper training in communication is necessary for PSW’s to provide the optimal in personal support services. There is no one size fits all answer for this challenge, but a comprehensive program that will adequately equip PSW’s is definitely in order.

Image credit: Used under a Creative Commons Attribution from One Way Stock on Flickr.

 

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