Using Personal Protective Equipment PPE Effective Communication Methods
Personal Protective Equipment PPE is designed to protect the wearer’s body from infection or injury. And COVID-19 pandemic issues created a situation where it is mandatory for healthcare workers to wear them while handling COVID-19 related cases. PPE equipment includes clothing and accessories such as gloves, face masks, earplugs, safety glasses, respirators, and so on.
Having to wear a PPE kit creates a communication barrier between the healthcare professionals and it imposes a heavy burden on their quality of performance. Patients look to nurses for support, help, comfort, and information and nurses look to physicians for what should be their responsibility – at a time where proper communication is more relevant – you have to interact while swathed in protective gear.
Effective communication is essential in these times, where a slight delay from your side may put your patient’s life in danger. Moreover, your patients need you more than any other time. They must be going through a lot – they are away from their loved ones, and must be anxious about their health condition! Here are some effective communication methods to keep when you’re in your PPE gear:
Be Calm And Try To Communicate
Wearing a full Personal Protective Equipment PPE makes your communication between colleagues and patients more challenging. Ultimately, this is bad for your quality of service, as communication barriers may lead to medical errors, and certain operations may not run as smoothly. Be calm during those difficult times. Give it a try. Try if it’s possible to communicate while you’re in your PPE kit. And it’s important to make sure the other person understands what you are trying to communicate. Be attentive and calm while talking to your others because even a misunderstanding might lead to serious medical errors or worse care. Communicate clearly with older people, ensure you can be heard and understood in spite of the PPE barrier.
Use Other Communication Methods
Place yourself in their situation and see how terrifying it would have been to be in a room full of people who only come into their room wearing hazmat suits. Your face sits behind both a mask and a face shield, and your patients entirely rely on your eyes alone. The fear and stigma felt by patients cannot be explained. Don’t be alien to them. Use your eyes and hand gestures to ensure your ideas are effectively made its way to them. Maintain eye contact with your patients as much as possible. Ensure you’ve their attention before explaining something. While speaking to others, remember to include hand gestures as this will help them get a clear idea of what you’re trying to convey. If it’s possible keep notepads with you to explain your ideas.
Make It Easier For Them To Identify You
Some nurses and other health care team members are all going way too creative. They wear laminated photographs of their smiling face to cheer them up. Wear your name tags in a way that is visible to read so that patients can associate your name to your PPE clad person. Encourage your team to print and put their names on their suit to help patients to identify them. Another option is using a clear mask, there are a ton of manufacturers that offer protective clear masks and you can choose from any of them. If it’s possible, allow your patients to recall the life outside the hospital environment and encourage their family members to send in photos of their loved ones to decorate the room.
Change Your Communication Habits
We all have our own speaking habits. Some of us may speak too fast or too slow. You have to make sure that they hear you. So, speak loud and gently. Your masks muffle your voice, and many elderly patients have baseline hearing loss. So, it’s helpful to speak in a somewhat louder voice, but do not yell. Don’t speak too fast as it will be difficult to catch up with your muffled voice. Try to remove the harsh tones despite the higher volume. Practice your new communication style to make it your habit.
Help Your Patients To Connect With Their Loved Ones
We are all going through tough times. You can help your patients to stay connected with their loved ones during this time. Use video and audio technology to help them stay in touch with their family and friends. Let them share their happy moments together. Promote good communication with your patients, let them talk about their pets, friends, and family. Let them remind them of their life outside the ICU.
Finally, Follow The Basic Communication Guidelines
- Get your patient’s attention before talking to them. As eye contact improves the quality of communication, make and maintain your eye contact with them as much as possible.
- Establish a clear yes or no signal with the patient. You can use basic communication gestures, such as you can use thumbs up or upward nod to indicate -Yes. Or a thumbs down or sideways nod indicates a – No.
- As much as you communicate with your gestures, take note of the patient’s communication gestures as well. Patients who need critical care are put inside ICU, as they need multiple types of equipment to support their health, they might be too tired to communicate with you.
- Remember to bring communication supplies with you. Bring paper, Pen, or marker anything that would be easier to carry around.
- Always validate your answers. Double check and confirm what you’ve heard is the right thing.
The strategies above reflect a few of what could have been effective communication while you’re in your personal protective equipment PPE. Ultimately, this is a time where you’re going through challenging communication situations. You have to find possible ways to communicate with your colleagues and patients.
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