Core Dimension 1 - Communication

Good communication is one of the most important aspects of health care and it underpins everything we do in providing a person centred, safe and effective service. This dimension supports all of the other dimensions in the KSF, since communication is a key aspect of all jobs in the NHS. Many problems that occur in the workplace are the result of people and teams failing to communicate effectively. This leads to confusion and can often compromise the quality of care or service delivered.

Communication is the sharing of information and ideas, whether verbally, non-verbally or written. Effective communication goes a step further than simply telling someone information. It is about making sure that the information is received and understood as intended.

Ineffective communication, or not getting the right information across, can lead to inefficient processes and unsafe practices, and possibly even patient harm. Patients and their families will also judge the quality of care they receive through our communications with them. To improve the quality of care we deliver, we must communicate effectively with everyone involved - patients, families, carers and the people we work with - to ensure that the right information goes to the right people in the right way.

Core Dimension 1 is about examples of the type and amount of communicating you do in your everyday job. It is about what you say, why you need to say it and the manner in which you say it. Importantly it also includes how communication skills are used to show empathy, caring and compassion.

Think about for example

What groups of people do you need to talk to in your job – is it:

  • other staff in the department and/or in other departments/disciplines
  • patients and their families
  • members of the public/visitors
  • people in other organisations e.g. social work, suppliers

How do you communicate?

  • Do you talk face to face, on the phone, in emails or do you use all of these methods?
  • How do you show courtesy and respect for the dignity of the person you are communicating with?

What kind of things do you need to talk (or write) about – is it:

  • Giving or asking for general information – what kind of information is needed in order to do the job?
  • Talking about a person’s health condition – giving health information or trying to get information to assess a person’s health needs?
  • Teaching new skills to another member of staff?
  • Having to speak about difficult situations or give quite complicated explanations?

How would you show empathy, caring and compassion when you are talking to people? Think about:

  • non-verbal cues including facial expression and open body language
  • the tone of voice
  • making sure a person’s preferred name is used at all times
  • actively listening to what people say and being interested
  • valuing other people as individuals
  • not talking over people or about people as if they weren’t there

What kind of things might affect how well you can communicate - think about what actions you can take to address any problems?

  • is it the environment i.e. a noisy, busy ward or other work area 
  • the health and wellbeing of the person you are talking to – does the person have a health issue which makes understanding or retaining information difficult
  • language barrier - does the person have a first language that is not English
  • the attitude and emotional state of the person you are communicating with – is the person upset, anxious, angry or frustrated
  • is there a need to use any communication aids -  for example does the person have a hearing difficulty or a learning difficulty
  • how to use words that the person can understand – how might you check their understanding

How and where do you record your work activities?

  • What are the policies and procedures of your Board around confidentiality – how do these apply to the job?
  • Are there special forms, paperwork or computer systems that need to be used to record the information needed in the job?
  • What professional standards for record-keeping should be followed?

What information is able to be passed on?

  • What kinds of confidential information is needed or used in the post?
  • What sort of rules need to be followed  to ensure that only the right information is passed to the right people?

For Reviewers and Managers

Effective communication skills are essential for anyone who manages or supervises a team of people. If the post will be responsible for leading a team you need to think about examples of how you would expect communication skills used effectively to

  • Support and motivate the individuals in the team
  • Praise and reward good practice
  • Provide feedback on performance in a constructive manner
  • Share information to keep people informed
  • Listen and question to check mutual understanding
  • Show concern for people’s well being
  • Treat people with integrity
  • Build rapport with individuals
  • Deal with difficult situations/conversations
  • Challenge and develop individuals

You may wish to check out the information and guidance in the Dignity at Work toolkit on the Staff Governance Website.

Core Dimension 2 - Personal & People Development