Ensuring your care setting and entire team communicate effectively, thoroughly and in the proper way as defined by the law is essential. Even with the best of intentions, miscommunication can lead to mistakes being made, and can be a barrier to the ‘Outstanding’ rating you deserve.

That’s why so much of the law surrounding care is concerned with proper communication. For example, having a leadership team that communicates well is part of being a ‘well-led’ organisation, a key requirement for regulatory bodies like Ofsted and the CQC. You also have a responsibility to be responsive to feedback, keep records in the correct manner to preserve confidentiality, and only communicate relevant information to those who need to know it.

Put together, it can be a lot to get your head around! Which is why we’ve split this introductory blog on communication into several sections, covering the most important features of this topic.

Being responsive

A key part of effective communication is being responsive – in fact, that’s one of the CQC’s key requirements for an ‘Outstanding’ care setting. Being responsive means taking special effort to collect feedback from those in your care and act on it promptly, while keeping records of feedback and outcome. Not only will this help you foster an environment where those in your care feel listened to and respected, it will help you address problems faster and boost morale, all while satisfying this important requirement for ‘Outstanding’ care.

Communicating changes – the good and the bad

When change happens, it’s important everything is communicated thoroughly, and that staff are briefed on what is changing, and why. It can be easy to assume staff understand why they need to implement something, but this often isn’t the case. When your staff aren’t fully briefed – those in your care, whether they’re young or old, will go to your staff to understand any changes that are made. They can usually explain the basics, but they need to understand the ‘why’s and be on board with any changes for these to be communicated properly to those you care for.

If you work in health and social or clinical care, you also have to adhere to the duty of candour – a legal requirement – which commits you to communicating when things go wrong, and apologising in due course.

Those who have difficulty communicating

People can find it difficult to communicate for a number of reasons – sometimes, that’s why they’re in your care in the first place. The key to treating people with respect and dignity is understanding different ways to communicate.

These options will differ depending on whether you’re caring for younger or older people, but examples include understanding the best way to communicate and understand people with autism, dementia, and those with limited sight and hearing. You may find It useful to have a basic awareness of Braille and Makaton, too.

You must also know your responsibilities which fall under person-centred care, meaning who to contact when you can’t communicate with a patient, and the best way to gather information in order to make an informed decision about someone’s care.

External communication

Confidentiality is always important, but especially so when you’re working with external agencies, like contractors. This is when you have to be most aware and protective of an individual’s personal information. And with new legislation, including GDPR, the rules have become even stricter.

External communication also covers your relationship with government bodies, like Ofsted, CQC and local councils who, for obvious reasons, you have to stay on the good side of. It’s important to remember your communication with these bodies can have far-reaching consequences, for good and bad. Just as with the duty of candour, you’re obligated to fully cooperate with these bodies, which means those appointed to do so should fully understand the rules.

Communication – it’s a big topic

As you’ll now be aware, care settings have to abide by a litany of laws, obligations, duties and regulations. There are general rules that you need to know, and also more specific ones, like how to abide by GDPR legislation, how to handle a client’s sensitive information carefully, and how you must communicate under your person-centred care obligations.

Because communication is so important, many of our courses touch on, or are dedicated to it. Our two courses on communication, one for all carers and one specifically for early years practitioners, will give you an advanced understanding of your responsibilities. And if you want to become a GDPR guru, we’ve also built a specific course for that, too.