In this online module, you have learned a variety of tips and strategies for improving communication access for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing. This is a quick summary of take-away points.
- Ask the patient what works best for communication. Recognize the diversity of patients who have a hearing loss and that one size does not fit all. Asking the patient will help you to provide the highest quality patient-centered care.
- Identify different strategies for communicating effectively. Some patients may use assistive listening devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants or FM systems. Other patients may rely on written communication. Some patients may request interpreters which can be either sign language interpreters, tactile or oral interpreters.
- Know how to schedule interpreters if requested. Find out the policy of your facility. While each system may be different, checking with social services, the emergency department, or the main switch boards are good places to start.
- Address the patient directly. Whether working with an interpreter or not, talk directly to the patient and look at the patient, not the interpreter or family member or companion.
- Ensure appropriate lighting for communication. Whether a patient is hard of hearing and relies on lipreading, or Deaf and uses sign language, patients with hearing loss generally use vision as part of communication. Check with the patient to see what lighting is appropriate.
- Know who to provide communication access for. In addition to patients, ensure that communication access is provided for companions or family members who are part of the care team and might be called on to take part in making medical decisions.
- Understand that effective communication helps you more efficiently do your job in providing the highest quality patient-centered care. Whichever of the strategies used to provide access, the efforts you make to ensure communication will benefit you in doing your work and ultimately lead to a higher level of patient care.