Interpersonal and Written Communication


The importance of effective communication in health and social care is that it allows the ability to the service providers to provide as well as receive information at the same time. Communication is a key part of palliative care as it helps the nurses to offer detailed information to the families and patients who are terminally-ill required for improving their life. In this assignment, initially, the meaning and the overall role of communication in palliative care is to be discussed. Later, the role of interpersonal and written communication in palliative care and importance of the concept related to the two forms of communication is to be explained.


Role of Communication in Palliative Care

The term communication means to impart or exchange information by writing, speaking, or using any other medium (Udo et al. 2018). Palliative care is the form of specialised medical care for individuals who are suffering from a serious illness (Tavares et al. 2017). The development of good communication in palliative care helps the nurses to discuss many end-of-life care activities which increase the likelihood of concordance between documented goals within the medical reports and patient-reported care goals. This is effective to improve the satisfaction of the patients with their care. As asserted by Brighton and Bristowe (2016), good communication in palliative care helps to influence the decision of subsequent treatment. This is because through proper communication the patients are properly informed about the effect of the treatment on them which leads them to avoid aggressive behaviour out of proper knowledge and understanding the need for treatment. As argued by Arnold et al. (2015), improper communication in palliative care leads the nurses to get confused regarding the immediate needs of the patients and face barriers from the patients while providing treatment. This is because without interaction the nurses are unable to know the key needs of the patients that are to be fulfilled. Moreover, the patients due to lack of interaction develop fear out of negative stigma and lack of knowledge regarding certain treatment that it would be infective to improve their quality of life leading them to avoid accepting the treatment. Therefore, effective and good communication is the key to provide satisfactory and easy care to service users in palliative care.

Interpersonal Communication

The interpersonal communication is referred to the process in which information, ideas, feelings and emotions are exchanged between two or more individual through non-verbal or verbal mode (Montgomery et al. 2017). The establishment of effective interpersonal communication requires management of proper body language, self-awareness, understanding of cultural differences and others. The interpersonal communication is important in palliative care because it helps the nurses to correct any wrong concept or negative stigma regarding any end-of-life treatment perceived by the patient or family of the service users (Kamal et al. 2016). This is because while communicating interpersonally the nurses verbally interact in an empathetic and polite way with the patient and their family members to impart data regarding the benefit of the treatment and the way it is to be provided. It helps the patients, as well as their family members, develop knowledge regarding the treatment which they were not previously aware. This avoids them to show non-acceptance behaviour ensuring smooth care delivery.

Interpersonal communication is important in palliative care as it helps the nurses to bring clarity while delivering any health information (McCallister et al. 2015). This is essential as the clarified information helps to clam the terminally-ill patients avoiding them to show aggressive behaviour making it easier for the nurses to deliver care. As commented by Wahab et al. (2016), good interpersonal communication in palliative care helps the nurses to develop trustful relationship with the patients as well as their family members. This is because the polite and empathetic words and the positive body language used in interpersonal communication by the nurses show support and dignity to the terminally-ill patients. Thus, this dignified care and support make the patient as well as their family members develop trust over the nurses and they avoid unnecessary interruption as they become sure that the treatment provided by the nurse is for the good of the patient. As argued by Kavalieratos et al. (2017), lack of self-awareness regarding relationship boundaries during interpersonal communication leads nurses to face barriers in executing proper patient supervision in palliative care. This is because without being self-aware about the relationship the nurses may interfere in personal matters of the patient which would make them feel insecure in turn showing avoidance to accept care.

The importance of interpersonal communication in palliative care is that it helps the nurses to persuade the patient to be less aggressive and accept end-of-life treatment that they avoid to continue out of fear of pain and other issues (Parikh et al. 2017). This is because during interpersonal communication the terminally-ill patients are actively listened by the nurses regarding the reason for their aggressiveness to avoid accepting treatment. It helps the nurses to understand the perspective of the patients based on which they discuss the care in such a way so that the patients develop positive intention to access the care. This impact of interpersonal care is evident from the study of Mack et al. (2012) where it is informed that in prospective study out of over 1000 cancer patients each of them showed less aggressive intervention to accept treatment during the last 30 days of their life after end-of-life care discussion with nurses. Interpersonal communication is seen to reduce hurdles in palliative care that are raised due to cultural differences (Vergo et al. 2017). This is because during interpersonal interaction the health professional and nurses by communicating verbally is able to identify the cultural values and beliefs possessed by the patient. Later, based on the information the care delivery is arranged so that the patient does not experience any cultural conflict while accepting the care resulting to avoid unnecessary barriers or chaotic behaviour from the patients to avoid accepting the care on cultural grounds.

Interpersonal communication is significant in palliative care as it helps to share ideas between nurses and health professionals to resolve any raised difficulty in offering care to terminally-ill patients (Coelho et al. 2016). This is because by establishing interpersonal communication between nurses or between nurses and health professionals it is seen that the nurses and health professionals are able to discuss the way to collaboratively tackle the changing emotions and medical aspect of terminally-ill patients. As mentioned by des Ordons et al. (2016), effective interpersonal communication is important in palliative care to understand the wish and expectation of terminally-ill patients. This is because through discussion the needs of the patients can be identified by the nurses and health professionals. The professionals based on this information makes changes in the care plan in such a way so that it fulfils the needs of the patients as well as medical requirements identified through the medical diagnosis of the patient. The satisfaction of care is required in palliative care as the patients are already disturbed with their terminal-ill health and providing dissatisfactory services during the condition would make them mentally disrupted which would instigate them to show aggressive behaviour (Hermans et al. 2019). Thus, interpersonal communication is important in this case as it helps to provide satisfactory care by meeting the demands of the patients.

Written Communication

The written communication refers to any message communicated in written format. The written communication has wide importance in palliative care to ensure proper care delivery and management in the field. As commented by des Ordons et al. (2016), written communication is significant in palliative care as it helps to record references and proof of complex medical reports and way of their treatment. This is because in written format all the techniques and mechanisms of complex health treatment offered to each patient who are terminally-ill are documented in words. It helps the health professional and nurses while offering care to other terminally-ill patients with similar complex health context to use the information as reference files. This is executed so that proper direction to offer care can be identified in an easier way. As asserted by Gidwani et al. (2017), written communication in palliative care helps to avoid confusion among the health professionals to decide which particular treatment is most viable for the patient being analysed. This is because written communication helps to frame records of care activities that are believed to be theoretically successful but practically unsuccessfully for previous patients with similar complications. Thus, such information by reading the written communication files helps health professionals to choose the best care option for the terminally-ill patient.

The health conditions of the patients in palliative care are often found to be critical in nature. Thus, it is often found that written communication is used by the health professionals to take permission of executing certain treatments that may be life-threatening for the patients. This is to keep records of the permission of the treatment from the patient and family members in case any unintentional harm is inflicted on the patient (Snaman et al. 2016; Pettersson et al. 2018). In relation to this, the written communications are important as it can be presented as a legal defence in case the family members blame of executing the treatment without their permission and intentionally causing harm to the patient. As commented by Linse et al. (2018), written communication in palliative care is important as it helps the nurses to properly document the orders from the health professionals regarding the way the patients are to appropriately care. This assists the nurses to have written guidelines that they can view any time to understand the way they are to execute their duties to ensure quality care delivery to the patients. It is essential as the patients in palliative care are terminally-ill and executing any wrong care delivery by nurses not following the health professionals orders would lead to create danger of life for the patients.

The written communication in palliative care is important for documenting the progress of the patients (Crowe, 2017). This is essential so that the progress data can be analysed by the health professionals to understand whether or not any changes are required in the care plan of the patients so that their quality of life can be improved. Moreover, this progress documentation of the patient through written communication is important in palliative care so that no time or resources are wasted due to duplication of care services. The written communication is significant in palliative care as it helps to develop detailed documentation of information for the nurses and health professionals while patient hand-off (Guo et al. 2016). This assists the nurses and health professionals to easily ensure continuous flow of treatment for terminally-ill patients. In palliative care, since the patients are often terminally-ill and are in critical condition thus interruption in care can create life-threatening instances (Centeno et al. 2017). Therefore, written communication avoid happening of such hindrances making it important part of palliative care.

The confidentiality of the patients is vital in palliative care so that neither of their medical or personal data is exposed in the public (Wilkinson et al. 2018). This is because exposure of such data may cause unnecessary harm to the patients from the society due to stigma and labelling of such disease in the society. The written communication in palliative care helps to provide factual information to the patients regarding the way and policies being abided by to protect their confidentiality (Saulnier et al. 2018). This aspect makes it important in palliative care as such information would help the terminally-ill patients and their family be informed in details regarding the way confidentiality is to be maintained making them assured to trust the treatment procedure. In recent studies, it is seen that different technology and media are used by the health professionals to develop written information regarding the way to deliver palliative care in complex conditions to the terminally-ill patients (Akard et al. 2018). Thus, written communication is important in palliative care to document information from various sources and through consultation regarding the way, complex care is to be provided to the terminally-ill patients to improve their quality of life.

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The above discussion informs communication means delivering information through different modes such as verbal and non-verbal and written form. The communication is essential in palliative care as it increases the likelihood of concordance between medical and patient's goals to provide satisfied care to patients. The interpersonal communication is important in palliative care as helps to persuade the patients to show less aggressiveness in accepting care, develop a relationship with the patients, reduce cultural barriers and others. The written communication is important in palliative care as it helps to keep records of patients to be used for reference, ensures easily hand-off of patients by maintaining continuous care, develop evidence for legal procedure and others.


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