Clear communication: What patients need to take more control of their care

What can services do to give people more control over their health and wellbeing? It starts with clear communication.
Two women look at a file whilst standing outside a hospital

It’s difficult to take charge of your health and make good use of the support available when services don’t communicate with you in a way you can understand.

No two patients are the same, so it’s vital that staff adapt the way they speak to meet the needs of each individual. When people understand what health professionals are saying to them, and they feel understood themselves, they’re empowered to get the best out of the service.

Putting people more in control of their health and wellbeing is one of the central aims of the NHS Long Term Plan. The plan, which local services are using to inform changes to care provided for their communities, aims to ensure everybody gets the help they need, when they need it.

To make sure they meet the needs of their communities, each local NHS now needs to hear from local people about how they want care to change where they live. By speaking up about their experiences and what would have made them better, people can help make services better for everyone.

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What would you do to help people in your area take more control of their care?

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People call for better communication: 4 examples from around the country

  1. People in Camden called on GPs to improve the way they speak to people with specific communication needs. Local residents told Healthwatch Camden that GP services were not properly supporting people and what needed to change. Together they encouraged GP surgeries across Camden to make several changes, including the introduction of large print and easy read registration forms, and deaf awareness training for staff.
  2. More than 330 people in Lancashire with limited or nonverbal communication helped their local hospital get better at communicating with them. The local NHS has now put better staff training in place, and they’re also making more information available in an easy read format.
  3. When people in Wirral said they didn’t know who to turn to for information and advice whilst in hospital, Infobank was created to give them more control of their care. Developed by Healthwatch Wirral in partnership with Arrowe Park Hospital, Infobank provides people with easy access to information about services, and answers to questions about their care. A key role of the Infobank is to be there for patients when they don’t know who to ask for help or where to turn.  Sam was admitted to hospital urgently and became worried about her pet who was home alone. She used Infobank to arrange for her pet to be placed into foster care, so she could focus on getting better.
  4. People in Surrey called on their hospital to make being discharged easier by providing clearer information. Patients, families and carers spoke to Healthwatch Surrey about how stressful and confusing they found leaving hospital. Many weren’t given enough or the right information and weren’t clear on their travel arrangements, where to go for support, or how to take their medication. Healthwatch Surrey worked with patients, staff and other organisations to develop a checklist of care needs. The checklist gives everybody involved with a discharge the information they need to make sure people leave feeling safe and informed. Other hospitals are now looking at how they can use this method to make leaving hospital a better experience for everyone.

Have your say

What would you do to give people more control of their care? Share your views.

Complete the survey

What would you do?

What would you do to make NHS services where you live better? 

Complete the survey and have your say.

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