Communication Cards

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Being unwell in hospital can be a stressful experience, and it can be made even more difficult for those struggling to communicate effectively due to limited English. Interpreting services are available to patients and families; however there was an opportunity to complement the service with an easy-to-use tool to support patient care, safety, and quality of experience around the clock. 

“Communication is a huge problem …. We can organise a translator for a few hours in a single day. What will happen during the other hours (frustration and lack of communication)?” - staff suggestion, 2014. 

The design and information communicated followed principles of ‘Intentional Rounding’, a common practice on wards based on supporting patient needs. This approach prioritised immediate needs, such as pain, toilet, positioning, environment, and possessions. To keep the resource accessible and low cost, size was limited to A4. Prototypes were trialled on wards. We found creating universally understood icons without words was more difficult than expected. As a result, this validated the need for funding for translations. The cards have been implemented in 12 languages and are being widely used.