Barriers Faced While Working With Elderly: Communication Skills Assessment 3 Answer

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Question :

Assessment 3: Individual Written Report & Oral Presentation (30%) 

Written report (15%): Students are required to submit a written report between 1000 - 1200 words on a chosen target client group from the list below.

Students are required to: • Describe the barriers in working with the chosen client group • Demonstrate clear understanding of the communication skills required for effectively communicating with the chosen client group • Identify applicable resources that may assist with communication when communicating with the chosen client group

Client groups that can be chosen: • Children • Youth • Elderly • Disability • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Oral Presentation (15%): Students are required to complete a seven (7) minute presentation highlighting the findings of their written report. • Oral presentations will be completed in Weeks 7 to 10 during class time

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Answer :


Communication is the key element ensuring high quality of service in the health care sector that results in satisfaction, safety and health of the patient. However, there are certain barriers faced by nurses and other health care staff while delivering quality care to different groups of target client like children, youth, elderly, disabled patients and aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people. This report focus on barriers faced while working with elderly to explain the communication skills required ensuring health and well being of this chosen client group. 

Barriers in working with Elderly

Effective communication is a necessary element while delivering patient care as it helps in developing and improving nurse-patient relationship while having a significant impact on the perception of patients related to quality of health care and treatment outcomes (Norouzinia et al., 2016). It is to be noted that there are several age related changes that act as barriers like los of hearing, changes in vision, reduced ability to smell and taste, reduced ability to feel touch and slow process of action and reaction among elderly (Varpio et al., 2016). 

Furthermore, the barriers come in the form of disease and disability resulting out of illness or side effects of medication. Here are issues like dysarthria, dementia, oral health problems, lung disease making it difficult to hear or understand, brain injury resulting in loss of language and aphasia again a loss of language making it challenging to be receptive and expressive (Li et al., 2012 and Park and Song, 2005). Such a loss in ability to express oneself through speech makes it difficult for health care providers to explain the treatment plan and assist elderly in improving the quality of life (Holm et al., 2010).

Apart from these barriers there can be certain environmental factors acting as barriers and takes the form of physical environment related issues, social environment factors and facility culture elements acting as barriers in working with elderly (Holm et al., 2010). The quality and quantity of interactions at nursing homes, factors related to noise, confusion, inadequate lighting etc. affect the ability of elderly to work with nurses (Park and Song, 2005). Further, role expectations in health care settings like task orientation and fears of being viewed as lazy for talking with older adults affect the psychosocial care negatively (Norouzinia et al., 2016) 

Communication Skills required to communicate with Elderly

The above-discussed barriers clarify the need of understanding older patients’ perception about communication barriers and acquire effective communication skills and attitudes by the nursing staff. There is a need to develop and implement communication as a multi-dimensional, multi-factorial and a dynamic process directly associated with the target client’s experiences and background. Here is a need for nursing professionals to focus on verbal and non-verbal communication while communicating with elderly so as to address the concerns of elderly patients related to empathy, support, understanding and comfort. 

In relation to verbal communication, nursing staff should exercise patience while communication with elderly (Varpio et al., 2016). This is necessary to address the issues of hearing, stress, confusion and required clarity as unique to the age of elderly patients. The communication related to time-oriented and task-oriented care should be explained clearly with results and treatment options. Understanding of medicines and care plan depending upon individual needs related to hearing loss, dementia or generational differences should be considered and well-explained (Li et al., 2012). It is also advisable to involve family members in treatment decision-making thereby enduring trust between patient and caregiver. 

In terms of non-verbal behaviour a key skill is related to instrumental behaviour that helps the health care provider to identify and meet the elderly need for assistance (Downey and Happ, 2013). It is a powerful form of non verbal communication used for reducing tension in the situation and gather detailed information regarding patient illness, feelings, or any other data useful for the process of care. Also, nurses should focus on developing an affective behaviour to ensure good interpersonal relationship with the elderly patient. Here caregiver provides emotional support while understanding the elderly patient’s experiences (Holm et al., 2010).

Such skills are necessary to generate positive outcomes in the form of reduced anxiety, guilt, pain and disease symptoms. Additionally, proper communication skills helps in increasing the acceptance and satisfaction on the part of elderly patients and makes it possible to get their cooperation in improving physiological and functional status of the patient (Park and Song, 2005). It is based on some key elements of displaying affective behaviour through jokes, praise, reassurance, eye contact, showing empathy and using affective touch. 

Applicable resources assisting communication with Elderly

Elderly may not know what resources are available for them and it is important that caregivers link elderly patients’ with the applicable resources assisting communication with the target group of patients. It is important to develop referral criteria and guidelines, accurate documentation and prompt referral for continuing care for elderly (Downey and Happ, 2013). 

Further resources assisting communication include the assistive listening devices (ALDs), Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and altering devices. Active listening devices help in improving sound transmission for people with hearing issues. The simple AAC device can be used along with a picture board or touch screen using pictures and symbols to understand a person’s typical day activities and experiences (NIDCD, 2017). Speech generating devices proves to be helpful in generating meanings from limited speech of an individual and TTY devices can be used to help people with speech difficulties. There are resources available been for non-speaking elderly patients focused on brain-computer interface to study the neural signals of persons brain and translated to help them communicate (NIDCD, 2017). 

The on-going care of elderly in case of post-hospital care needs to consider trained nurses holding a key role in case management for frail old patients. Therefore, linking patients to resources throughout disease trajectory helps in better communication with the caregiver, proper sharing of information and providing care beyond the hospital boundary. 


Effective communication while taking care of unique needs of elderly patients is the key to deliver quality health care. These skills required for effective elderly care includes being aware of difficulties in hearing, taste, reaction, expression, etc. while ensuring keeping the noise levels low and avoiding distractions avoiding any hindrance in communication. While taking care of the different cultural beliefs and values while communicating along with acknowledging the emotions and responding with empathy can prove to be helpful for avoiding the barriers to communication with elderly making it easy to work along with them and delivering efficient health care services.