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Effective Communication Strategies for Health Assistants

  • 09 Pages
  • Published On: 20-12-2023

How to Use this Booklet

The purpose of this booklet is to inform new health assistants effective ways to care for the senior patients at the Helping Hand Clinic, by the usage of proper and timely communication. The booklet will help the new health assistants in providing the elderly patients at the Helping Hands Clinic a comfortable experience and enable them to properly care for the elderly.

Mostly, the booklet is to be referred to when assistants are working with elderly patients and need a guide in communicating with them in a proper fashion. The booklet elucidates the factors which affect the health status of the elderly, so that the health care worker can gain perspective of the environment of the elderly patients who are seeking medical attention from them. The booklet also elucidates on the health belief system and uses the theoretical underpinnings of this theory to explain where health beliefs of elderly people can originate from.


This booklet can also be referred to when the health assistant needs guidance in communicating medically with the elderly patient. The booklet also contains information about what are the potential barriers that these elderly patients face when they seek medical care. The knowledge of what potentially they face could help the health assistant in anticipating the needs of the elderly patient


There are several factors which may affect the health of an elderly individual. Over the past decades, there has been a increase in the population of senior citizens across, the world, because of the improvement in health service and the strides made in medicine ( Hence, there is a requirement for understanding the factors which affect the health of the elderly as well. Some of these factors could as follows:

Increasing life expectancy in senior citizens means that they have to plan further ahead financially in terms of their health, as it is likelier that they will be without continuous employment and more vulnerable to diseases post-60 (Kim et al, 2013).

The elderly are financially vulnerable as well, as they resort to working lower paying jobs in order to keep drawing an income. Hence, the are health-wise vulnerable as well as financially vulnerable (

Poor working conditions in which elderly individuals work has made them more susceptible to health hazards and health issues which could accumulate over time. This stress is both physical and psychological, which takes a greater toll on the elderly populations (Leijtan et al, 2015; Kwon and Lee, 2018).

Ageing is related to several additional health issues. Diabetes mellitus is caused when cardio-vascular networks of individuals are weakened, which could also give rise to heart diseases (Sanderman et al, 2002).

Cardio-vascular diseases in the elderly can also cause issues like symptomatology and feelings of anxiety in the elderly (Hackham et al, 2010).

Chronic respiratory conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD can affect the older generation more and increasing health problems can also lead to mental problems like depression in senior citizens (Mahler, 2000; De Hann, 2003).


Health Beliefs are an important part of determining the quality of the health care that elderly people receive and seek out. The Health Belief Model essentially maps out five distinct understandings for the way individuals behave with regards to their health. For the elderly, the Health Belief Model seems to take the most positive effect in terms of increasing the awareness and these awareness increases came from positive social programs which dispelled accurate health beliefs. It was also discovered that there was more likelihood of the older generation to take positive actions with regards to their health due to such campaigns (Borato et al, 2016).

Health belief efforts should be redirected towards the more vulnerable sections of the society like the elderly, the older and lower-income group in a community are more likely to be at-risk for adopting behaviours which negatively effect health (Akyol, 2020).


Communicating effectively is one of the ways in which Health Belief system of health care can be effectively used to care for the elderly. In health care communication, it is important to understand that the ideals for good communication are the same as any other form of communication. In terms of good communication for the elderly, the health care provider must understand that they need to communicate effectively to draw information from not only the patient, but also encourage the patient to communicate their problems effectively (Giles et al, 1990).

It is important to realise that the communication gap between the worker and the patient may arise when the worker’s priority is to get the ‘job done’ and the patient is interested in getting more social interaction (Greene et al, 1994).

Hildegaurd Peplau, a health care worker, put forward a theory of patient-health care worker communication in the fifties, which elucidated that the health care worker fulfils several roles in the duration when interacting with the patient; stranger, teacher, leader and so on. It is important that there is no exploitative aspect in the communication, whereby the patient uses the personal relationship with the health care worker in order to establish greater connections with them (Caris-Verhallen, 1990).

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In this scenario, it is important for the health care worker to understand that there needs to be a standard procedure for interacting with patients, but at the same time, the patient is not getting communication which is impersonal and doesn’t address the specific concerns of the people. Health care workers need to provide encouraging communication from their end in order to persuade the elderly patients to raise their concerns without worries. Another important component of communicating effectively with the elderly patients is by seeking feedback of one’s own communication techniques and understanding their areas of improvement.

References 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 April 2021].

Leijten, F.R., van den Heuvel, S.G., van der Beek, A.J., Ybema, J.F., Robroek, S.J. and Burdorf, A., 2015. Associations of work-related factors and work engagement with mental and physical health: a 1-year follow-up study among older workers. Journal of occupational rehabilitation, 25(1), pp.86-95.

Kwon MH, Lee JS. The effects of occupational characteristics and leisure activities participation of elderly workers on health. J Korean Soc Occup Ther. 2018;26(2):33–42. doi:10.14519/jksot.2018.26.2.03

Van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Sanderman, R., Ranchor, A.V., Ormel, J., van Veldhuisen, D.J. and Kempen, G.I.J.M., 2002. Gender-specific changes in quality of life following cardiovascular disease: a prospective study. Journal of clinical epidemiology, 55(11), pp.1105-1112.

Hackam, D.G., Khan, N.A., Hemmelgarn, B.R., Rabkin, S.W., Touyz, R.M., Campbell, N.R., Padwal, R., Campbell, T.S., Lindsay, M.P., Hill, M.D. and Quinn, R.R., 2010. The 2010 Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommendations for the management of hypertension: part 2–therapy. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 26(5), pp.249-258.

Mahler, D.A., 2000. How should health-related quality of life be assessed in patients with COPD?. Chest, 117(2), pp.54S-57S.

Wijnhoven, H.A.H., Kriegsman, D.M.W., Hesselink, A.E., De Haan, M. and Schellevis, F.G., 2003. The influence of co-morbidity on health-related quality of life in asthma and COPD patients. Respiratory medicine, 97(5), pp.468-475.


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