Caring Caregiver Communication

Efficient communication is necessary for busy caregivers.

How fine tuned are your caregiver communication skills? The number of adults in America who are providing care for another adult with health needs is almost 20 percent! As well, around 61% percent of those adults caring for another adult, are also working. (AARP, 2020) From decades in health care working with families, I have seen the added time it takes to provide care for a loved one. Over the years, working with patients and families in their homes has allowed me the opportunity to help them develop plans and techniques for saving time. One of those areas was to communicate in a way that minimizes wasted time. It is important to know what you want to accomplish with your communication, and have appropriate techniques and materials that will support your purpose. Furthermore, many people who need care, will also need reminders to stay consistent, and can be easily overwhelmed by too many details.

Good caregiver communication tackles one issue at a time.

Effective caregiver communication is vital for the care ‘receivers’.

If our communication is going to make a difference, it has to have an effect, or make a change. Our caregiver communication skills can impact how well that change is made. It is important to know what change you want to take place, and start small. Information you communicate needs to be clear and concise, and you should consider a person’s ability to listen or read, understand, and recall. We can use words, pictures, charts, or lists to communicate effectively with others. Likewise, it is important to provide verbal and written instructions that can be understood and followed. Use helpful techniques and supplies to improve your results.

Results from caregiver communication improve when you are consistent with timing, wording, methods, and supplies.

Empowering your loved one or patient with positive caregiver communication is beneficial for them and for you.

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An important part of communication is how your words are expressed, and what type of feelings they evoke. You can express information with many emotions, but commonly in caregiving we use frustration, kindness, or neutrality. When someone is in a position where they need assistance, it is often a place they would not choose to be. To have someone communicate to them with kindness, compassion, and empathy, is not only appropriate, but will often improve their response. As a clinician my goal to help the patient feel cared for and empowered. I attempt to let them have as many choices in the process as possible, and I also try to help them feel they are guiding their own care. I have found I have fewer issues and better results when I use positive and empowering word choices. Here are three communication skills (with helpful links) that I have used and have found to be helpful in my caregiving:

1 The Sandwich is a great communication skill that is useful for trying to encourage a needed behavior. You validate the person, express the action that is needed, and then encourage them with an action step. I have used this communication technique to help clients choose to take their medication, eat, and exercise.

2 I/You Statements are effective when trying to communicate concern. If you are upset with something, begin with “I feel”, instead of “you did”. When you begin with a YOU statement, can cause the person become defensive and it may lead to irritation and decreased listening.

3 The Teachback Technique is useful when trying to assess someone’s understanding. Have your client or loved one “tell you back” what you communicated to or instructed them. Encourage them to explain it in their own words. It gives you an idea of what they understood, how much they remember, and can help identify misunderstandings that could potentially become problematic.

Organization and documentation of health instructions is vital for good caregiver communication.

Health information and follow through can be confusing. Help the people you care for understand instructions and see what they have accomplished. The feedback can contribute to positive communication. Senior focused handouts should be 12 font, not all CAPS, easy to read, and mostly black print on white paper. Save your self time by using prepared senior focused, printable health care handouts. Find senior care focused health and wellness packets on the blog!

Here’s a FREEBIE: A printable medication list help improve accuracy and follow through.

Clinicians: make your caregiving more impactful for seniors, and make your continued education classes count! Check out this Dementia Care Specialist Certification Course at Pesi! Use my link for a discounted price :)(affiliate link)

Check out over 15 different senior care health and wellness packets also available on Etsy!

If you are a family member or caregiver of a person with dementia or Alzheimers, this book is an excellent resource for understanding and compassion.(affiliate link)

Other posts you may find helpful:

10 Tips to be an Organized Caregiver

Improve Your Assessment with a Memory Screen

Do You Need a Social Work Evaluation

What other information or tips would you give for healthy communication skills for caregivers? I would love to hear from you! Subscribe to my blog for weekly tips, information and insight into senior care and senior health, and receive a few more printable FREEBIES!

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