The importance of communication when providing complex care

Clients with complex needs often have a number of different individuals and experts providing specific care at any one time. That means the need for effective communication is key to ensuring the appropriate care is delivered, and that nothing is missed. For example, if proper communication, handover and documentation is not kept between shifts, a patient may receive double their required medication, or none. This can have serious repercussions.

Therefore, effective communication within the circle of care is essential for a care plan to work effectively and for a client to receive the best level of care possible. When the program is not adequately communicated, or necessary information is not passed on, care for the patient can be seriously compromised.

Here are some simple but effective tips to ensure you have the right communication in place to deliver the right care at the right time. 

Plan in consultation

When creating a care plan, make sure everyone who needs to be consulted is engaged at the very beginning. This might include family, specialists like occupational therapists, and even funding bodies. For example, a big part of funding through the NDIS is documented planning. In addition, ensuring all partie –  including the care recipient – is included at this stage means you will receive valuable input into how they want to be cared for, and it increases the chances everyone will follow the plan once it’s implemented.

Have a digital plan and record

Consider using a digital format for your plan. Paper can get lost and may be hard to decipher if there is a spill, or if people have hard-to-read handwriting. Make sure it is user-friendly and available on mobile phones and other devices so that everyone who needs to see and input information can have easy access at all times.

Communicate to all parties

Ensure everybody involved in caring for the patient has a copy of or access to the plan and what is required in the way of updates and documentation. Take some time to make sure they understand their responsibilities and encourage them to ask questions about anything that is unclear. Getting things right at the start will make everyone’s life easier – and the care recipient’s life safer – in the long run.

Review and refine the plan

Complex care often requires changes, be that due to ageing, improving or deteriorating health, or a shift in care routines or providers. Having a plan that is frequently reviewed and refined, means you will keep pace with your patient’s evolving needs. You may want to review the plan every 6-12 months to ensure it still fits the patients’ needs and preferences, and improves their quality of life. Any good review would include input from all parties, the most important being the person receiving care, as their voice is the most essential part of the process.