My NHS prescription - take clear communications, daily

London - Monday 9th June - I accept that my status a communications person makes me a little biased, but my experience as a parent and son convinces me that poor communication causes a vast amount of unnecessary pain in our health and social care systems. Looking at that more positively, better communication could make difficult situations a little easier to bear.
No doubt most people who join the NHS or work in social care do so because they want to make a contribution to helping people in need. Some may do it for the money, just as they do in any line of work, but most seek the reward of feeling they’ve done something good with their working life.
Perhaps those good intentions are eroded by the stress of what they try to do on a daily basis. But many manage to place their patient or service user at the centre of what they do, day in, day out. One thing I feel they all have in common is the ability to communicate effectively. That means listening really carefully, not just to the patient or service user, but to their carer, too.
It means seeing the person, even if that person may not be able to communicate very well on account of their age, illness or disability. It means trying to form a real understanding of the person in the hospital bed or care home room.
It’s not all down to the staff. Patients and their carers need to communicate effectively with staff, too. We must recognise that nursing staff and carers do jobs that many of us simply wouldn’t be able to do ourselves, and most of the time they do it darn well. We might try saying thank you a little more frequently for starters.
I believe that poor communication is bad for our health and wellbeing, and contributes to financial waste that we can ill-afford. Only last week Gill Rowlands, Professor of Health Disparities at London South Bank University, published research showing that health information is too complex and that 43 per cent of people aged between 16 and 65 years are unable to effectively understand and use everyday health information http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/news-php/news.php?newsid=772
Our health and social care systems face unprecedented challenges. They are under funding pressure, and they need to reconfigure much of what they do to cope with ongoing demographic changes. Communication won’t solve all of those problems. Bad communication will undoubtedly make them harder. Effective communication will be essential.