Open and transparent communication is a vital element in a positive workplace culture. Whether you are talking to your care worker about when and how you want to shower, discussing an individual’s care and support needs with them, agreeing appraisal outcomes with a member of staff or writing the business plan, every act of communication must be clear and understandable. Jargon, acronyms and other practices that potentially exclude must be avoided.
Of course, communication is much more than the spoken word, attention must also be given to how people communicate in non-verbal ways. This is of particular importance where individuals have difficulties communicating, for example if they are living with dementia or a learning disability. Assisted living technologies (ALT) are just one example of tools that can support people to communicate in different ways. Clear communication is also essential where teams are widespread, based over several sites or where members are lone workers, as in domiciliary care and support services.
Good internal communication, role modelled by leaders and managers, will also set the standard for staff to copy in their interactions with others, including colleagues, those needing care and support, carers and professionals. However, every individual is personally responsible for the tone, content and the style of delivery of the communication.
Noticeboards, monthly newsletter, daily text comms between myself and the care team manager, periodic team reviews, encouragement of team get togethers. Clear processes, care plan… communication, communication, communication. Open door policy (via text/phone/email) between the team and the care team manager and myself.
Zephyr Care is a successful multi-service organisation offering residential and home care, mainly to older people and employing some 550 staff. Their CEO, Bob, has just retired and Zephyr Care externally recruited to the post. Rose was selected after a thorough recruitment process so senior management were sure that Rose would bring values, experience, skills and knowledge to the CEO role which were in harmony with Zephyr’s mission statement and business objectives.
Zephyr Care’s staff pride themselves on having a positive working culture and the organisation has a very low staff turnover. However, they are unsettled and apprehensive about their new CEO. Bob was very popular with staff and was seen as fair and approachable with an ‘open door’ policy. Will Rose be the same kind of manager? Will she want to change things?
Rose is really pleased to be CEO of Zephyr Care, it has a very good reputation for delivering person centred care and she wants to ensure that the substance behind this reputation is maintained. She realises that there will be a certain amount of staff anxiety with somebody new at the helm. With her years of experience in the sector - she started as a care assistant and has worked her way up - she decides that one of her first priorities will be to understand the culture of the organisation and to get to know and listen to staff; to observe first-hand how they work and communicate with each other and those using Zephyr Care’s services. She sees the staff as the organisation’s biggest asset and she thinks she needs to understand this culture and how it works before making a decision on whether anything needs to change.
- Remembering staff anxiety is quite high, if you were Rose, how would you go about understanding the culture of your new organisation and how it works?
- How would you communicate with staff to enable you to listen to their views? Factor in the impact of environmental influences on the different teams e.g. lone workers, shift workers.
- Look at some recent communications (emails are a good example but consider verbal communications too) within your teams. What factors make good communication and what impact do less positive communications have on people?
How to establish lines of communication
By Learning through work.
Learning through Work is a series of pocket-sized booklets that develop communication and number skills in the adult social care workplace. It’s a practical resource focusing on the basic skills workers need, which they can carry around with them. The booklets focus on routine, but vital tasks in adult social care such as keeping records and calculating medicine administration. The resource can help learners understand challenging topics and see how they can use their skills in day-to-day work.
The booklets cover:
- reporting and other care work writing
- writing skills for care workers
- talking about bodily functions and physical health
- using numbers in care work
- number skills for care workers
- talking about how much, how often.
For more information visit www.skillsforcare.org.uk/learningthroughwork.
How will it help?
We know that workers learn much more effectively when things are placed in context so the skills become real and meaningful, Learning through Work helps frontline workers acquire the skills they need in a way that suits them. By covering reporting, bodily functions and physical health, workers can develop both their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
These booklets look at many different lines of communication and will help you identify potential solutions for any communication problems you are having in your organisation.
Other resources to support you
This resource is for employers and managers of care and support staff to help them address communication and number skills in the workplace. Care Skillsbase can be used with workers to identify areas for improvement and build confidence in their skills and knowledge. Care Skillsbase works within induction standards, the code of conduct for social care workers and employers and the Qualifications and Credit Framework.