Communication can be defined as the ongoing exchange of data, information, thoughts, opinions and feelings among persons by way of utilizing speech, gestures and/or other means (Kourkouta and Papathanasaiou, 2014). Since nursing assistants are on the front lines of direct care in healthcare facilities, the communication skills of CNAs are truly fundamental to smooth interpersonal interactions and enhanced patient satisfaction.
Communication between nursing assistants and their patients is firmly grounded in a trifecta of three essential elements. These three elements include competent social skills, proven communicative techniques, and the Golden Rule of always treating other individuals in the same manner that one would want to be treated.
The communication of each nursing assistant is also guided by several ethical principles. First of all, veracity is defined as truth-telling. Nursing assistants possess the ethical obligation to be truthful (read: veracious) in all communications with their patients. Secondly, the ethical principle of integrity imposes a duty upon all nursing assistants to behave in a straightforward manner while adhering to high standards in all communications and encounters with patients. Finally, the ethical principle of fidelity is defined as being faithful, and nursing assistants have the ethical obligation to exercise faithfulness when communicating with patients.
Communication is also an element that is heavily tied into the skills portion of the CNA state test. The test taker will need to communicate with a patient in a simulated patient care scenario as a testing site evaluator observes. The vast majority of the hands-on procedural skills involve some type of verbal and nonverbal communication in order to pass the CNA state test. For instance, most of the skills on the CNA state test call upon the nurse aide test taker to engage in multiple communicative tasks.
The communicative tasks that are incorporated into the skills portion of the CNA state test often include verbal and nonverbal responsibilities such as introducing oneself as the nursing assistant, vocally identifying the patient, referring to the patient by his or her preferred name, explaining the procedure, maintaining face to face contact whenever possible, and asking if anything else is needed.
The following list is a set of general guidelines on communicating clearly and effectively with patients during the skills competency evaluation section of the CNA state test.
- The nursing assistant should greet the patient by his or her preferred name.
- The nursing assistant should introduce himself or herself to the patient by announcing one’s name and title (e.g., “My name is Rob and I will be your nursing assistant today.”).
- The nursing assistant should maintain face to face contact with the patient whenever possible.
- The nursing assistant should avoid staring into space or talking aimlessly. The nursing assistant should focus on the topic to be discussed.
- The nursing assistant should occasionally talk to the patient while providing the care.
- The nursing assistant should listen to the patient as he or she speaks and respond as needed.
- The nursing assistant should utilize appropriate social reinforcements such as praise, smiling, and rephrasing of the patient’s words as needed.
- The nursing assistant should encourage the patient to utilize the call light as needed and make sure it remains within easy reach.
- The nursing assistant should be cordial, even-tempered and honest in all verbal and nonverbal interactions with the patient.
- The nursing assistant should let the patient know verbally when he or she is preparing to exit the room.
Kourkouta, L., and Papathanasaiou, I. (2014). Communication in Nursing Practice. Materia Sociomedica, 26(1), 65-67.