​Engaging elderly patients requires clear and compassionate communication.  Listening attentively, showing empathy and providing appropriate information puts our elderly patients at ease.  

Here are some useful tips that enhance communication with the elderly:

1. Face an elderly patient squarely when talking to him/her and maintain the same or lower eye level so he/she does not feel intimidated. Avoid speaking to a patient from behind them or from the side.

2. Ask  for their preferred language and use that language consistently (with the help of a translator if needed).

3. Ask patients if they have hearing difficulties and tactfully check which is their "good ear".

4. Speak slowly and slightly louder in the direction of the patient's "good ear". Do not shout.

5. Use short phrases and check regularly to make sure they understand you. Avoid using abbreviations or jargon.

6. Use short, simple closed-ended questions, which can be answered with a "yes" or "no", when speaking to patients with cognitive impairment.

7. Be supportive and encourage patients to ask questions.

8. Include family members and other caregivers in the conversation to ensure that information provided to the patient is understood.

9. Apart from offering verbal information, offer to write or draw key instructions or explanations for the patient.

10. Provide simple flow charts and tables to help them understand processes/charges, or prepare them for what is to come. 

Source: SingHealth Age-Friendly Guidelines [Download PDF or email groupservicequality@singhealth.com.sg to get a copy]

On 8 November, 35 teams from SingHealth institutions, Intermediate & Long-Term Care sector agencies, and 3 educational institutions received awards from the Guest of Honour, Dr Jennifer Lee, Chairman of the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) at the Singapore Health Age-Friendly Awards 2016.

Click the links below to read their commendable efforts to improve the healthcare experience of the elderly population in:

Patient Safety
• Environment & Infrastructure
• Service Improvement & Experience