Implementing targeted communication skills training to encourage provision of psychosocial support (#224)
Development and implementation of sustainable communication skills training
Good communication skills are fundamental to quality cancer care, and lead to improved patient satisfaction, understanding and reduced distress
In 2008, Dr Jane Turner submitted a project proposal for a Queensland-wide communication skills strategy which was approved as part of the Queensland Health State Cancer Care Funding Initiative to support education for Health Professionals working in Cancer Care and Palliative Care. The project identified the importance of good communication in oncology and the difficulties posed for health professionals especially those working in non-metropolitan areas in terms of access to skills development. In order to have a sustainable approach to communication skills training, a “Train-the-Trainer” approach was used, with the aim of developing a pool of skilled facilitators able to deliver communication skills training state-wide. Train-the-trainer workshops in October 2008, June 2009 and March 2011 resulting in a pool of 32 trained facilitators. Mentorship was provided to these facilitators as necessary. By February 2012, approximately 200 health professionals had participated in day-long communication skills training with subjective improvements in knowledge, skills and confidence. Trainers continually assess local needs, and roll out workshops accordingly. The long term goal is to see this training as mandatory practice.