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Communication Access in Hospitals

Communication Access Barriers

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Many people, including those with speech and language disabilities (SLDs) and hearing challenges, experience communication barriers to hospital services. Some of the barriers happen when:

  • healthcare providers don’t know how to effectively communicate with people to give information in ways they can understand, accurately understand the full meaning of their messages, or get informed consent for treatment and advance care directives​
  • patients can’t reach the nurse’s call bell to get attention in an emergency
  • hospitals don’t have appropriate communication too​ls and methods for them to use in emergencies
  • there are no trained communication assistants to help patients communicate effectively throughout their hospital stay
  • Patient Intake and Admissions Services can’t get accurate information from their patients
  • hospitals don’t know their legal obligation to provide communication supports for people with SLDs (Eldridge v. British Columbia (Attorney General) [1997] 2 S.C.R. 624)
  • client has hearing difficulties (e.g. hearing loss, not wearing hearing aids hearing aids aren’t working)

​Watch this video from CDAC:​ Steve Wells talks about communication barriers in a healthcare setting.

Credits: Adapted from Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC)​

Current as of: May 30, 2018

Author: Allied Health, Speech, Language, Hearing and Audiology, Alberta Health Services