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Communication Access in Hospitals

Suggestions for Healthcare Providers

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​To help people with speech and language disabilities (SLDs), it is important for healthcare providers to:​​​​​​​

  • make sure the client has the supports and communication tools needed to successfully communicate while in the hospital
  • plan on spending extra time if the cl​ient has a slow rate or method of communicating​
  • get the right admission information from the client or the person chosen by the client to speak on his or her behalf
  • include information in the client's file about how the client prefers to communicate and what the client needs to understand what is being said and have their messages understood accurately
  • find out if the client needs help reading, understanding, and completing written forms and documents
  • find out how the client can give informed consent to treatment, advance care directives, and other health law documents
  • watch for, monitor, and adapt to changes in the clients’ communication needs due to changes in their stamina, alertness, and physical positioning during treatment
  • make sure clients can reach and use n​urse call bells and alert systems
  • make sure signs are easy to understand and are at a level that people who use wheelchairs can see
  • make a referral to Spe​ech-Language Pathology (SLP) if the client needs extra communication methods and supports
  • provide other ways to contact the service (e.g., text, email) instead of telephone
  • ​be prepared to provide communication methods and trained assistants to make sure clients can fully understand and can communicate about:
    • their ability to make decisions for themselves (capacity assessments)
    • who they have chosen to make decisions or to support decision making
    • consent to treatment​
    • advance ​care and end of life directives

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

Current as of: May 20, 2018

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