PART ONE (IMPORTANCE OF INTRA-COMMUNICATION):
In order to achieve the best possible patient outcomes, there must be good communication between all members of the Healthcare Team. From a “rehabilitation perspective,” effective communication must begin within the therapy department, then progress toward the center staff (nursing staff, MDS coordinators, admissions, social services, etc…) There will always be obstacles or barriers to patient progress and optimal care planning, but, with good communication, issues can be kept to a minimum, and resolved quickly once detected.
Within the therapy department, therapists and assistants must discuss patient goals, plans of care, and progress, on a daily basis. This is a vital component to achieve the highest outcomes with progression of residents towards their goals with therapy. The time spent between therapists, assistants and residents should be geared towards increasing their highest level of independence and quality of life. Therapist periodically co-sign assistant’s documentation and perform co-visits involving the therapist, assistant, and patient, in order to insure that everyone is on the same page with the patient’s care and progression. There should always be an open line of communication between the therapist, assistant, and resident, as goals may need to be upgraded or downgraded to compensate for the ever changing needs/demands of the patient. The rehab staff should also meet with the manager of the therapy department on a weekly basis, so that the manager knows the progress of each resident on therapy and is able to relay this information to center staff in Medicare or Utilization Review Meetings.
PART TWO (INTERCOMMUNICATION BETWEEN THERAPY AND CENTER STAFF):
Therapy staff should notify nursing staff timely of any changes to the patient or resident. This may include things like the patient having increased complaints of pain during treatment, a new skin tear or abrasion that had not been noticed before, or a resident who has new complaints of illness or confusion. Sometimes, a patient or resident may tell a therapist about a complaint or concern they may have in regards to their care. In this instance, the therapist should inform Social Services or a designee regarding the concern, so that the matter can be addressed promptly. In any instance, a change or concern should also be relayed to the manager of the therapy department, so that this individual can take the information to the Department Heads in Weekly and/or Daily meetings. Once the incident or concern is discussed with the appropriate staff, and has been resolved, it is also important for the manager to provide feedback/discuss recommendations or resolutions with the therapy staff. This completes the “communication circle” and helps all staff to present as a united front in the eyes of the patients and their families.
If communication is broken, then it may take longer to reach goals set by the supervising therapist, cause a delay in treatment for a newly diagnosed condition, or provide unnecessary concerns from patients or family members regarding patient complaints. Effective/open communication helps promote an overall positive experience when a loved one is placed in a skilled nursing facility, whether being admitted specifically for therapy, or for permanent placement. No employee should have “tunnel vision” when caring for residents as this will hinder progress and decrease the quality of care being provided. Being positive and communicating effectively adds an element of happiness and contentment to the residents, which in turn increases their motivation and participation with therapy, decrease lengths of stay, and increase quality of life while residing in a nursing care facility.