Good communication skills are essential to delivering person-centred care.

By communicating effectively with patients we can find out what matters to them and tailor care to meet their needs and wishes.

Communication is a ‘procedure’ in good clinical care1 that we can use to improve our patients’ experience and their participation in care. This will help minimise their risks of functional decline in hospital.

Like wound care or surgical procedures, we need to learn and practise good clinical communication skills.1

Every interaction we have with our patients, their family and carers, and our colleagues requires us to draw on our communication skills. This includes screening, assessing, developing and delivering intervention and discharge plans, and providing safe and effective clinical handover.

This topic gives an overview of communication and recommends actions that we and our organisations can take, in addition to health service policy and procedures, to communicate effectively with our older patients.


1. J. Philips, 'Communicating with Patients', (Melbourne: Centre for Palliative Care, 2014).

All Australian hospitals are being accredited under The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s (ACSQHC) National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. Each of the ten standards relate to optimising clinical care and better outcomes for all patients. Standard 2 of the NSQHS Standards, ‘Partnering with consumers’, is an overarching requirement and emphasises the importance of involving our patients to optimise outcomes and reduce adverse events. In addition to assisting us to meet standard 2, this topic relates to preventing falls and harm from falls (standard 10), medication safety (standard 4), to improving our identification and response to people presenting with or developing a cognitive impairment (Cognition Clinical Care Standard), in preventing and managing pressure injuries (standard 8), and it plays a vital role in clinical handover (standard 6).


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