Communicating with Mrs. Talcott
Mrs. Talcott is returning to Green Haven Care Center after hospitalization for a stroke. One of the lingering effects is aphasia. While most of the staff have worked with post-stroke patients in the past, several new staff members have not. To make sure Mrs. Talcott receives quality care, the following guidelines were passed out to all staff members regarding communication.
get a patient’s attention before you begin speaking by calling him/her by name.
turn off or turn down the radio or TV to eliminate background noise.
talk normally with a normal volume and speed unless the patient indicates he/she wants you to speak slower or louder.
don’t talk down; talk to the patient as you would any other adult.
give the patient time to speak; don’t rush by completing his/her sentences.
confirm the patient understands by asking “yes” and “no” questions.
don’t point out speaking errors.
The first time Ellen took care of Mrs. Talcott, Ellen’s supervisor Tracy was nearby and overheard the following conversation.
“Mrs. Talcott, don’t try to talk. We know that you can’t. It’s okay, dear. What do you want for lunch, soup or a sandwich?”
“Mrs. Talcott, you want supper? That’s wrong. We’re having lunch. I’ll bring you a sandwich.“
When Ellen left Mrs. Talcott’s room, Tracy pulled her aside. She explained that Ellen had not communicated appropriately including interrupting, talking down, and pointing out errors. Tracy told Ellen she expected her to review the guidelines for communication and talk with her again before she would be assigned to Mrs. Talcott a second time.
*Communication strategies from the National Aphasia Association, www.aphasia.org