This maintain the safety and wellbeing of a

This assignment will be discussing
the importance of communication and team work within a health care environment.
It will also highlight the barriers in which health care professionals and
other individuals must overcome to deliver effective communication in relation
to verbal and non-verbal, language barriers and impairments, and others. This
assignment will explain how team work is executed within a health care
environment to maintain the safety and wellbeing of a patient. Both topics will
be linked back to a practical experience and backed up with relevant theories
and references to provide a balanced argument on how and why they are


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Communication is a
two-way process in which individuals exchange information as well as create
ideas and meaning. Communication is a way of connecting with people and places,
whereas in a health care environment, it is one of the main functions, without
it an organisation cannot operate between departments, employees or patients. The
main skill that a health care professional needs to work effectively is the
ability to understand and communicate with others. Communication skills are
vital as they enable health care professionals to understand the needs of
others regarding their social, emotional, physical and intellectual
development. Also, to be a competent care professional you need to be able to
learn about individuals and listen to what they have to say verbally as well as
observe their body language.

impacts can also influence the effectiveness of communication. For example, if
the lighting is either too dim or too bright, it can cause distress for those
within that environment. If the lighting is too dim, it can create a negative
atmosphere and can make the patient feel depressed or lack self-esteem.
Alternatively, if the lighting is too bright, it can cause more health problems
for the patients involved. If the patient has a history of either epilepsy or
migraines, lighting which is too bright can distress them. In this type of
situation, the health care professionals should ask the patients whether the
lighting is suitable for them, if not, how would they like it altered? Would
they like it turned down or up, regarding on their medical history and how they
are feeling.

Other environmental
impacts could include background noise and the health care professional
speaking from too far away. If there is a lot of background noise, for example,
if the patient is in a busy waiting room i.e. Accident and Emergency, the
health care professional should ideally take them to a side room where there is
minimal noise – this will then make the delivery of the communication more
effective as the patient can fully understand what the health care professional
is saying. If this did not happen, the patient could become agitated due to
them not understanding and not hearing what the health care professional is
saying. It could also lead to the patient feeling unappreciated and believing
that their health is not important. Furthermore, if a health care professional
is speaking from too far away, it can affect the delivery of the communication
as the patient involved could already have a hearing impairment. If this was
the case, the patient would find it very hard to grasp what the health care
professional is saying. Again, this would could make the patient angry or
concerned. Within a health care environment, the professionals involved with
patients should always talk with a calm and soothing tone, and should sit
relatively close to the patient for them to understand the full extent of what
they are saying. If, for any reason, the patient did not catch a certain word
or sentence the health care professional had said, it is then the health care
professionals job to reiterate what they had previously said.

If there is a
patient who has a hearing impairment, for example if they have a hearing aid,
it would then be the health care professionals job to make the patient feel
comfortable by not shouting and                                                 
ensuring that their face is visible so that those who can lip read, are
able to. Using pictures and writing messages are acceptable if the health care
professionals ask the patients first and making sure that they are aware of
what is happening. If needed, there are health care professionals who can
communicate through sign language (Makaton or British Sign Language). Again,
the patient should always be informed about changes before they are made.

Being able to
understand non-verbal communication is important within a health care
environment as you can often tell how people are feeling by observing their
body language. People can express how they are feeling using their eyes, tone
of voice, facial expression and body posture. It is essential that health care
professionals can judge when a patient is either in pain, distress or are
showing volatile behaviours. This is necessary as many patients are unable to
verbally communicate due to mental and physical illnesses, therefore being able
to observe a patient is a key skill which health care professionals need to
fulfil their daily duties. If health care professionals were unable to observe
a patient’s body language, it could result in mistreatment or more pain for the
patient. If a health care professional is carrying out an examination on a
patient who has just had surgery, they could be hurting that patient but not
realise it as they cannot read their body language. Therefore, in this type of
situation there should always be more than one professional in the room when
performing an examination to ensure that the patients needs are being heard as
well as observed.

Michael Argyle
(1925 – 2002) was a social psychologist who researched and created theories
about communication and interpersonal interaction. Argyle stated in 1967 that
communication is typically a two-way process which refers to two individuals
sending and responding to each other’s verbal and non-verbal communication. In
1972, Argyle developed the “Communication Cycle” theory, which initially
predicts how communication occurs between individuals in one-to-one situations.
The cycle is when we understand what is being said, reflect and then send our
feedback to the individual we are communicating with. Therefore, within a
health care environment, when communicating with patients, the health care
staff must ensure that the message they are sending is clear and that the
patients understand what is being said for them to respond accordingly. The
“Communication Cycle” consists of;

1.      An
idea occurs – This is when an individual creates an idea that they want to
communicate about. In a hospital environment, a doctor or a nurse will think
about how they will communicate with their patients based off their patient
files. This enables them to communicate more effectively and efficiently as
they have considered any barriers to communication.

2.      Message
coded – This is when the professionals plan what they are going to say and how
they are going to say it. They will also decide whether any aids are necessary,
for example, if sign language is needed or if spoken word is enough.

3.      Message
sent – The message has been sent through the agreed form of communication. For
example, through sign language, pictures/writing or gestures.

4.      Message
received – This is when the patient/individual takes in what the message said.

5.      Message
decoded – This means that the individual or patient has understood what the
health care professional has said, they will use their body language or
gestures to show this. For example, constant eye contact, nodding or smiling.

6.      Message
understood – The patient or individual can now give feedback which then repeats
the process of the communication cycle.

There are a few
factors which can influence the effectiveness of the communication cycle, for
example, the initial idea may not be planned in thought before the actual
conversation. This can alter the message and make it seem unclear to the
individual on the receiving end. Also, the message being sent may be too
complex for the other individual to understand, this could be due to jargon
being used. Within a health care environment, professionals need to be careful
when using jargon, this is because many individuals may not understand what is
being said. In an ideal situation, health care professionals should try different
ways of saying things and try to make sense of sounds or words people do not
seem to understand. It is also important to talk in short, clear sentences to
avoid using jargon.

A health care
professional may understand other people’s emotions by observing their
non-verbal communication, but they cannot understand what a patient is thinking
without being a good listener. A health care professional must look interested
and ready to listen before the skill becomes effective. They must ensure that
they hear everything which is said, and take notes if needed (only with the
patient’s consent), remember what has been said and ensuring that they
understood everything by repeating what the patient had said. By doing this,
the patient will feel more comfortable and able to talk freely to that health
care professional in the future about any concerns they may have. It will also
make that patient feel valued.

Visual impairments
are also barriers to communication as some patients may be unable to read
specific documents, such as appointment letters. Visual impairments can
include, blindness, cataract, near sightedness and Diabetic Retinopathy.
Whenever a patient with a visual impairment comes into a health care
environment, the professionals should use conversation to describe what is
around them and important details about their medical conditions. Professionals
should also help those with visual impairments to touch things, i.e. if that
individual feels comfortable touching faces for them to recognise those around
them. Health care professionals should also check what visual impaired people
can see, this is because many registered blind people can see shapes or tell
the difference between light and dark. The health care professionals should
also ensure that visual aids, such as glasses are being worn and that they are

have an influence on the effectiveness of communication as they often lead to
confusion and misinterpretation, this is because individuals with different
ethnic or cultural backgrounds may not have the same medical terminology,
techniques or equipment. This can ultimately lead to unnecessary stress or
worry. Therefore, health care staff should be perceptive towards different
cultural interpretations. Due to misunderstandings, individuals can become
angry or excited quite quickly, therefore, in this instance it is important
that the professionals involved stay calm and approach the subject differently.
Depending on the patient, the correct form of communication is vital. If a patient
is friendly and knows their doctor or nurse very well, then informal
communication is acceptable on a professional basis. However, if a patient does
not know their doctor or health care professional, then formal communication
should be used until a comfortable atmosphere has been created.

Individuals who
have special needs can face communication barriers within the community as
people may find it difficult to start a conversation with them, or the
individuals themselves may be unable to process the information which is being
sent to them via verbal communication. For example, when individuals have a
severe learning disability or illness, such as dementia, it is not always
possible to communicate with them. In this instance, care services can employ an
advocate for that individual. An advocate is someone who speaks on behalf of
someone else if that individual cannot express what they would want or need.
Within a health care setting, if there is a patient with a serious illness,
they may have their parents, guardians, children or another next of kin to
communicate their needs and wants as they understand that patient’s mannerisms
and personal gestures. Advocates are there so that they can argue the patient’s
rights without being stopped by what the medical staff think is the easiest and
cheapest way.

The care value base
is about improving the patient’s quality of life by considering their
intellectual, emotional, social and physical needs. As providing care is at the
heart of every health care service, professionals should help patients to take
control or stay in control of their lives, they should treat patients with
respect and dignity, patients should feel valued and listened to. The care
values attempt to decide the key principles that guide health care
professionals on how they should behave.

Another barrier to
communication is when patients or service users become aggressive or start to
complain. When a patient starts to complain or start to show volatile
behaviours, health care professionals should consider the reasons for this. Are
they in pain? Have they been waiting for long? There will always be a reason
for the actions and emotions that they are showing. Health care professionals
should stay calm and try to diffuse the situation by talking to the
patient/service user and ensuring them that their query or issue will be dealt
with accordingly. Another reason why a patient or service user would become
aggressive or start to complain could be because they have a family member or
friend that they are worried about. In this instance, a health care
professional can then lead them to that individual’s room, and can discuss and
update that patient or service user depending on the relationship with the
individual. Health care staff are trained to be able to help any service users,
whether they are showing aggressive behaviours or not.

Team Work:

Team work is a method in which individuals work together to
achieve a goal effectively. Team work is an important skill which is often used
within a health care environment to ensure that a patient or service provider receives
care of a high standard. Team work is the cooperation and constructive feedback
between individuals. Individuals who work as part of a team seeks help and
shares information with other professionals and colleagues when patient’s and
service user’s needs are not being met in terms of care or if those individuals
are at risk, whilst maintaining professional boundaries and consistently values
the roles and responsibilities of others.

Theorist and psychologist Bruce Tuckman created the “Forming
– Storming – Norming – Performing” model in 1965 and since then, it had become
one of the most common and used theories for team development. Tuckman’s theory
highlights the way that a team takes on a task from the start until completion.
To describe the completion of the tasks and challenges, Tuckman added fifth phase
to the model; “Adjourning and Transforming.”

Tuckman’s theory is especially relevant to team building
challenges as the phases cover the completion of any task or challenge
undertaken by a team/group. One of the many perks of team building is that everyone
has an opportunity to observe each other’s behaviour within an acceptable time
frame as well as help one another. Within a health care environment, team work
is extremely important for the care of a patient to be effective. An example of
this would be a doctor, nurse, play specialist and the family of a patient all
working together to provide the care as well as updating one another with any
changes medically and/or personally. If those individuals did not work together
or converse between one another, either verbally or electronically, then the
patient’s needs may not be getting met. This is as the patient may have a pain
or a medical concern but the nurse or doctor fail to report the issue within
the patient’s file, which then means that those looking after the patient on
different shift patterns may not be aware of that patient’s medical issues.

Forming – This is when the team has been created
and the task presented to the members of that team. Within a health care
environment, even if those individuals do not know each other, they are
agreeing to work together for the same goal – to improve that patient’s quality
of life.

Storming – This is when each member of the team
begins to suggest ideas to address the task/challenge and try to come up with an
agreed solution.

Norming – This phase is when the group
individuals all agree on the rules and values about the solution which they
have all chosen. During this phase, it is important that each member does not
lose their creative edge and motivational drive.

Performing – This is the stage where the ideas
that the team have created comes into play. For example, this is when a
patient’s operation would go forward after weeks/months of planning and

Adjourning and Transforming – Tuckman added this
phase to initially cover the end of the task/challenge and the break up of the

It is acceptable in some cases for the team members to
return to any phase of the model if things are not going to plan. An example of
this would be if a patient must change a date of an important operation or an
appointment. Both things can class as a set back for the team as they may have
other tasks to attend to, therefore they would have to work around their
already busy schedule. Also, if a new member joins the team, then the remaining
team members must update that individual on the ideas which they have created
as well as any other bits of important information.

High functioning teams not only provide better support for
patients, but they also support everyone within that team. This is beneficial
as it reduces stress and promotes a healthy working environment. A typical nursing
team, within a hospital setting, is made up of registered nurses, clinicians,
nursing assistants and other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists.
When working together, they will all contribute to help prevent errors from occurring
and will then enable nursing staff to reach their goal of improving patient’s
quality of life – there is no arguing that working together is one of the best
ways to care for patients and service users.

One of the main skills which individuals need to be able to
work in a team is adaptability. This allows healthcare staff to be flexible and
come up with new solutions to help with day to day duties. An example of this
would be a nurse struggling with their assigned number of patients and another
nurse offering to split the duties to help their team member. It is vital that
a team is well-functioning and can cope well with unforeseen circumstances,
such as a nurse or another health care professional being unable to complete
their shift. The nursing team should always be prepared for plans to chance and
comfortable to find a replacement where and when needed.

Another way in which individuals can make team work effective
within a health care setting is ensuring that they know of any plans and that
they stick to them. All nursing staff should know the plans for different
situations which can potentially be life threatening or damaging. For example,
all nursing staff should know the protocol for a fire. Ensuring that all fire
doors are closed and try to get all the patients, service users and other
members of staff to safety i.e. to a fire exit, if not they should ensure that
their surroundings are secure and safe whilst they wait for emergency services.

Trusting your colleagues is extremely important within
nursing as it sets a more friendly, approachable and comfortable atmosphere for
other individuals within the facility. It is necessary to build relationships
and figure out how each member works, this way individuals can share ideas,
skills and knowledge which will then contribute to the care provided to
patients and service users. Undeniably, nurses and healthcare staff are proficient
professionals and their role within society is irreplaceable, together there
are magnified when working as part of a team.

Overall, you cannot have team work without communication, as
communication is vitally important when working within a team of health care
professionals. An example of this would be handover at the end of a shift, this
is when nursing staff go over how their shift had went and how the patients
are. If this did not happen, then other health care professionals would not be
aware of any changes to the patients regarding their medical conditions i.e.
changes to medication or updates as to when patients are being discharged – if not
a life could potentially be in danger. It is important that every detail is
explained with clear communication, either verbal or electronically. Health
care professionals should constantly be communicating to other nursing staff
verbally or through patient’s notes, this way the possibility of
misunderstandings and volatile situations would be near enough impossible.

To conclude, this assignment has discussed the importance of
communication and team work within a healthcare environment. It also highlighted
the barriers in which healthcare professionals and service users must overcome for
communication and teamwork to be effective. This assignment also explained how
teamwork is shown within a healthcare environment to maintain the safety and
well-being of patients and service users. Both topics have been linked to
practical experiences and backed up with relevant theories and references.


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