Good Communication: It’s Good for Your Health!

October 26 – 30, 2015 is Canadian Patient Safety Week.

Canadian Patient Safety Week

Good communication is essential for patient safety. As health care providers, we must be individually and collectively committed to providing quality care and services, and to keeping our patients, clients, and residents safe.

At Eastern Health, we aim to provide safe and quality care every day. Canadian Patient Safety Week gives us a designated time when a national spotlight is placed on patient safety activities. This year the Canadian Patient Safety Institute has selected ‘communication’ as the focus for Patient Safety Week with the theme Ask. Listen. Talk.

Our staff know that asking for input – listening to what our patients say – and talking with them about the care they receive is vital to ensuring their safety. We asked physicians and staff in some key service areas the following question about their perspective on health care communication:

This week focuses on the importance of improving communications, and how this can have a positive impact on patient safety. In your work, how is communication vital to patient safety?

Here’s what they said:

Dr. Julia Trahey

Dr. Julia Trahey

There are so many moving parts in our health care system that information exchange and coordination are essential to providing quality care to our patients.

Communication acts as the “system binder” – to maintain and strengthen those interconnections in the important work we do.

– Dr. Julia Trahey
Clinical Chief of Patient Safety

Gena Jones

Gena Jones

Here at the St. John’s Long-Term Care Facility, we place significant importance on our Resident Safety Plan. My portfolio is dedicated to this plan and it is crucial to the communication of resident care.

Our management team meets weekly, with this focus brought to the table – enabling us to get to the root cause of safety concerns so we can learn and develop quality improvement strategies. All staff at our facility play an integral role to safeguard our residents.

– Gena Jones, Resident Care Manager
St. John’s Long-Term Care Facility

Melanie MoaklerThe act of asking, the ability to listen, the comfort in talking to one another, and body language, is crucial to our patient population.

Providing updates to my staff, having an open- door policy – and being readily accessible increases the comfort and likelihood of clients, staff and families to seek me out. Providing feedback ensures I understand the issues or concerns and that they are addressed.

By working together and communicating, patient safety concerns are addressed!

– Melanie Moakler, Program Manager
Mental Health and Addictions

Darren Rideout

Darren Rideout

I think that the single thing that has the most positive effect on patient safety in the recent past is our electronic Clinical Safety Reporting System (CSRS).

This system is a key part of every staff member’s ability to communicate patient safety concerns. CSRS insures that the right information gets to the right person, fast! Happy Patient Safety Week.

– Darren Rideout, Division Manager Cardiac Care

(l-r) Amanda Halfyard (fifth from left) and 4NB Quality Improvement Group, Health Sciences Centre.

(l-r) Amanda Halfyard (fifth from left) and 4NB Quality Improvement Group, Health Sciences Centre.

Ineffective communication can cause delays – and put patient safety at risk! Our 4NB Quality Improvement group, at the Health Sciences Centre, is comprised of various disciplines from the in-patient unit. We collected data on how disciplines communicate with one another – for example in our rounds – our ‘huddle’ to plan our patients’ discharge. We’ve worked with those groups to improve our processes.

The end result has been increased team collaboration and communication, resulting in better care for our patients!

– Amanda Halfyard, Division Manager

Eastern Health offers what is called the full continuum of health care – in other words, from the beginning of life, until the end. As the comments above demonstrate, clear communication about the care we offer, is as important as the hands-on care itself. Together, they allow us to provide care that is timely, safe and effective….during Patient Safety Week – and every other day of the year! ■

This story was written by Troy Mitchell, a Quality and Clinical Safety Leader with Eastern Health, based in St. John’s.

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