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Meeting communication needs: topics of talk in the nursing home.

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  • 1University of Kansas School of Nursing, Kansas City 66160-7502, USA.


Nursing home residents primarily rely on staff for communication and interpersonal relationships. Challenged by staffing shortages and increasingly complex care, staff who provide the most communication with residents lack awareness and skills to effectively communicate with older adults. This study, a secondary analysis of staff-resident interactions from one nursing home, explores communication topics and the effects of an intervention. Staff from one unit were recorded during 2 hours of caregiving to provide a representative sample of their communication with residents. Staff then attended an educational program targeting improved awareness of communication needs and reducing "elderspeak". Recording was repeated post-intervention. Baseline conversations focused on activities of daily living (ADLs), personal-social, technical care, and health assessment. Post-intervention ADL talk decreased in staff-resident interactions, while personal-social topics increased. These findings suggest that residents' limited opportunities for communication with staff are primarily focused on care tasks. With increased communication awareness, staff can learn to modify conversational topics to better meet older adults' psychosocial needs.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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