Supporting Communication in your Healthcare Team

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Supporting Communication in your Healthcare Team

Posted on 23 August 2021

You want to get the best out of your team and the wider workforce, which relies on good communication.

How do you go about supporting communication in your healthcare team?

Communicating important information and feedback is a vital aspect of healthcare, which is why getting it right is so essential for optimum team functioning.

Why is it so important to have effective communication in your team?

Undoubtedly you already know the importance of communication, yet it can be easy to forget how much it permeates every aspect of yours and your team’s processes.

Poor communication can be detrimental to patient experience, team stress levels and relationships, the passing on of information and general safety.

Great communication enhances collaboration, team wellbeing, honesty and cultivates a strong support network that encourages efficiency and safety at every level.

Working in healthcare is stressful, so having a strong support network and communication in place is vital.

Did you know that ineffective communication among healthcare professionals is one of the leading causes of error and patient harm, according to the NHS

These communication failures lead to increases in harm, length of stay, and resource use, as well as reducing staff morale.

What can be done to combat this?

Focus on the encouraging attributes

Healthcare at its core can be rather focused on individual skills above teamwork and collaboration, which, when combined with different communication styles and training, can lead to poor communication.

Encouraging attributes of communication generally revolve around open communication (which requires honesty and for a team to feel safe enough to share their feelings), shared decision-making, and making space for regular meetings and briefing/debriefing.

The general principle to keep in mind is that a team functions well when they can frequently and candidly communicate, which doesn’t happen incidentally.

Space needs to be made to facilitate this type of communication, which is why team huddles are such a well-received option, as a quick meeting that sets the day or shift up by communicating with key team members is beneficial for everyone.

Additionally, issues can be ironed out in a timely fashion, rather than potentially having to put up with interruptions from your team throughout the day.

A fixed time of the day means that your team knows when they have the opportunity to bring up any queries and thoughts – hence why making the space and time is so important!

Take a look at your current processes

With so many factors involved in communication, the process can quickly become muddled up between multiple involved parties.

One small but effective change is to ensure that when messages are passed between your team or across the workplace, the parties involved communicate their understanding and acknowledgement.

The easiest way to do this is either by a repetition of the information back to the individual passing it on, or for the individual passing on the information to verify if their message has been passed on properly.

Otherwise, a team is often relying on the assumption that a colleague will immediately know the meaning of what they are saying, which can lead to errors as a colleague may interpret their meaning differently.

Observe the current processes and make a mental note of where there is room for improvement.


Utilise your leadership skills

Many of the errors in communication can occur because staff may not be comfortable raising any of their concerns, or asking for further clarification when there are lapses in communication.

Creating a positive culture in which your team can be confident that their concerns are valid, and that they don’t need to fear reprimand, can go a long way in creating an environment that fosters open communication.

Additionally, it is the responsibility of the team leader to streamline communication by clearly and concisely delegating responsibilities and roles so that a team can operate more effectively, and most importantly, safely.

A strong emphasis on efficient communication from those in leadership roles means that a team can function more effectively, there is a decreased risk of harm to patients, and staff engagement also increases.

Taking the lead and setting the example is the best way to get the ball rolling!

Make sure your team feels heard

When communication is poor, your team is likely to feel demotivated and lack engagement.

Whether through a team huddle, anonymous surveys or debriefs, asking your team their thoughts and feelings shows that you value them and their experiences.

By opening up the space to your team, it gives them the confidence to communicate with you and others, which only improves interactions in the workplace in the long-term.

Prioritising frequent face-to-face interactions can help alleviate some of the common pitfalls of technology and also simplify everything for all involved parties – it’s easier to get the true, intended message when you are face-to-face.

If low expectations are placed on a team for communication, the entire workplace is at risk, which makes a high standard of communication more essential.

To summarise

Making time and space for communication is the best way to create a culture of communication that is open, honest and efficient.

Though there may seem to be an increased pressure on team leaders and senior staff to facilitate this, it is also beneficial for senior staff to recognise the positive impact they can have on their team’s ability to communicate.

Primarily, communication is about steering action rather than simply ‘telling people what to do’ – your team all has valuable contributions that they can communicate – which is why processes need to be observed and improved before positive change can occur.

It isn’t easy trying to collaborate in such a fast-paced environment, but it becomes much simpler when everyone is on the same page.

If you’re looking for a better flow of information, higher team engagement and morale, increased patient satisfaction and improved safety, it’s time to start looking at your communication processes and improving them.

You can get the best out of your workforce by streamlining an integral part of your processes… it’s a win-win for everyone!


Get in touch with the T2 Healthcare team today to find out how we can help you by calling 0203 002 6305, or emailing info@t2healthcare.com.


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