6 Tips to Communicate Effectively with Brain Injury Patients
April 26 2019
How to Overcome a Unique Set of Problems when Communicating with Patients with a Brain Injury
Communicating effectively is something we work on throughout our lives. However, as a nurse or home healthcare aid, communicating with patients can present its own set of difficulties. This is especially true when communicating with a patient who suffers from a brain injury.
Communication vs. Intellect
Do not assume that your patient’s intellect is also affected by the brain injury. Communication and intellect are two different things–some brain injury patients just have a hard time communicating. Go into every conversation with a new brain injury patient assuming their intellect is preserved. Treating your patient otherwise can be disrespectful and hurtful.
Some people with brain injuries may have trouble concentrating or organizing their thoughts. If there are any distractions, such noise from a TV or radio, remove those distractions. When communicating with your patient, it is best to keep the area quiet and to focus on short-term goals. Also make sure that when you are communicating, that the patient can clearly see your face. This will help them focus on the conversation.
Remember to be patient, flexible and supportive of your patients with brain injuries. It is important that you take the time to understand your patient and that the patient understand you. Also, avoid interrupting the patient as this leads to distractions and setbacks. Also remember to speak slowly, but not overly slow. Then allow your patient plenty of time to understand you and reply.
Repeat if Necessary
Some patients with brain injuries may have short-term memory deficits. So be prepared to repeat yourself both orally or in writing. If your patient looks confused by what you said, ask if they need you to repeat or clarify. Also, do not show frustration in having to repeat yourself as this can cause your patient to feel guilty or hurt.
Be Helpful but Not Forceful
If you feel your patient is having a hard time understanding you or something else, offer them your assistance. Provide your patient plenty of time to make a decision on if they want to accept your help or not. Wait for their acceptance of your help and do not “over-assist” or be patronizing.
If you are having a difficult time understanding something your patient is telling you, be honest about that. Ask for clarification. Your patient deserves to heard and understood.
By practicing some additional patience, you can effectively communicate with your brain injury patients. As with any patient, be sure to show your brain injury patients empathy and understanding and to treat them with the same respect you would anyone else. By communicating well with your patients, you will be able to form a good relationship with them and be able to give them better care.