In health care settings, communication breakdowns between patient & caregiver can have dire consequences.

These consequences include increased patient pain, misdiagnoses, drug treatment errors, extensions in hospital stay and death. (Happ, 2004; Patak, 2006)

It sounds serious and it can be! However, there are many positive steps you can take as a health provider and a consumer.


1. Write information simply.

Try using Scope’s Clear Written Communications. The Easy English Style Guide. There are also some great fact sheets and soon there will be consumer videos and new example documents.

Healthy bladder and bowel habits- cover of Easy English document

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Check out the bookmarking site Diigo and use the tags to find links to Easy English examples, Websites, Statistics, Articles and Image libraries.

3. Check out bespoke resources for health providers.

The guide to becoming a Crystal Clear Pharmacy from Ireland is an excellent resource. In Australia there is lots of work happening locally in the primary care partnerships, and nationally from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Some of these outcomes include summary sheets for clinicians, managers and executives, as well as tip sheets. Have a look at these resources on the NALA and  Safety and Quality website

4. Don’t forget about training staff.

Scope presents training on how to write Easy English and runs sessions regularly or can come to you.

woman presenting training

5. Become communication accessible.

Join the services and organisations that have already been awarded the Communication Access Symbol.

communication access symbol

For more information, visit the Commission on Safety and Quality website.

Naomi Rezzani is a speech pathologist at Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre and presented at the AGOSCI National conference 2017.

If you’d like to find out more information how to make your information accessible, training, or how to become communication accessible, contact CIRC at circ@scopeaust.org.au or 03 9843 2000.

References:

Happ, M. B., Roesch, T. K., & Garrett, K. (2004). Electronic voice-output communication aids for temporarily nonspeaking patients in a medical intensive care unit: a feasibility study. Heart & lung : the journal of critical care, 33(2), 92-101.

Patak, L., Gawlinski, A., Fung, N. I., Doering, L., Berg, J., & Henneman, E. A. (2006). Communication boards in critical care: patients’ views. Applied nursing research : ANR, 19(4), 182-190.