4.2 Assess an individual’s understanding of the information conveyed

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

Unit 2: Advanced Communication Skills

LO4: Be able to convey information to individuals and others

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4.2 Assess an individual’s understanding of the information conveyed

To be able to communicate one needs to assess the individual’s understanding of the information conveyed. This means questioning and checking if they understand what it is you are communicating with them as well as restating key points, such as discussing treatment options and medication side effects.

People can sometimes not understand something because it is difficult for them due to their age or health condition, in which case it would be wise to provide information in different ways so they can understand better.

The organization of the question is very important when assessing someone’s understanding of the key points that you are communicating with them. The questions should not be too complicated and be logically ordered. Communication can break down if there is poor concentration, for example, because the individual is unwell or tired, so you need to make sure they are attentive before commencing discussion on any topic.

To check whether or not an individual has understood what was communicated to them potentially involves asking them about their comprehension; it is good practice to ask open-ended questions such as “Can you tell me more about…?”

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If an individual is not able to understand what you are communicating with them, the best thing to do would be to repeat important information in different ways so that they can better understand. You could also ask someone else who is more familiar with the information, such as their family member or carer.

The following are imperative if wanting people to understand what it is you are saying:

  • Be sure of yourself and your knowledge on the subject
  • Make sure the person you’re speaking to has time and isn’t rushed
  • Be clear about what point you want to communicate i.e “I need to explain…”
  • Try not to use jargon/technical terms unless it’s necessary
  • Be realistic about the person’s age and health condition so they can comprehend what you are saying to them
  • Be patient, especially if they have cognitive difficulties
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer e.g “Can you tell me more about…?”
  • Rephrase important points in different ways i.e “So this is quite an invasive procedure…”

You cannot use checking for understanding as an endpoint of effective communication, rather it should be seen as one aspect of the process of communicating effectively. The most important thing is to make sure individuals understand what it is you are trying to communicate with them. If not, keep repeating the information until they do

When thinking about how you can check someone’s understanding of the information that has been communicated to them, a useful thing to consider is using a questionnaire or survey. This is because this would require people to think about what it is you have been communicating with them and show evidence of their knowledge on the subject when answering your questions/survey.

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