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Effective Communication Among CNAs in LTC

As a Certified Nursing Assistant, effective communication is a very important part of your daily job. CNAs are required to communicate with many different care team members such as supervisors, care team members, family members and most importantly, the resident.

A resident’s health and their care will depend on how effectively you are able to communicate your concerns and observations to your nurse supervisor. This communication makes adjustments to the care plan possible. Communication skills are also a necessary mechanism to properly deal with stressful and confusing situations.

Communication isn’t just speaking, as much as 90% of our communication is nonverbal. 

Barriers To Communication For Certified Nursing Assistants

Communication can be a delicate thing – there are several ways we can see excellent communication blocked or disrupted. Here are some common communication barriers that CNAs may face and ways you can prevent them:

The Resident doesn’t hear you, hear properly or doesn’t understand you
You can avoid this by making sure to stand directly in front of and facing the resident. Stand, sit or squat so you are at eye level with the person.  Make sure your face is in the light, so that your lips and facial expressions can be seen. When speaking, try to pronounce your words more clearly and slower than you might with your own family or friends.

The Resident is difficult to understand
Remember to always be patient and truly listen to the resident. It may help to ask the resident to repeat or further explain anything that you are not able to understand. Once you have a grasp of what the client is trying to communicate, go ahead and rephrase the message in your own words to the client to make sure you truly understand what they are saying or otherwise communicating.

The message contains unknown slang terms
As a CNA, we need to avoid using slang to communicate with residents. It is unprofessional and confusing to residents just as a resident’s slang may be confusing to us.

Communicating with residents who have lost the ability to speak
Certified Nursing Assistants can encourage other modes of communication, such as writing, drawing, yes/ no responses, choices, gestures, in addition to speech. Communicating with residents who have lost their ability to speak, CNAs need to get the residents attention first. Speak slowly and simply, ask direct questions that only require a yes or no answer, use pictures instead of words and give the resident time to respond.

Your nonverbal communication changes your verbal message
Although this can sometimes be difficult to avoid, but basically, you need to make sure that you consider your body language and gestures as you are speaking. Your body language should match the message you are speaking.

Remember communication is very important in the medical community, not only to Certified Nursing Assistants, but to the entire healthcare team.