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Principle E

As a Nurse, you are at the heart of the communication process. You play a key role in making sure appropriate care and support planning is in place by identifying patients' needs.

You ensure that patients are able to communicate effectively with the health and social care team by maintaining the quality of record keeping. This could be by identifying measurable goals and agreeing evaluation dates so that progress can be monitored.

One of the first steps in identifying service users' needs is to use a validated screening tool, such as BAPEN’s 'Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool' ('MUST'), to identify people at risk of malnutrition.

You use assessment to develop a care/support plan and engage with service users to identify their requirements and preferences. You monitor the plan against these nutritional needs with particular attention to those most vulnerable to nutritional risk.

Many industries have recognised the importance of communication. Briefing tools such as SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) give opportunities for you and other team members to share information and speak up. Use of communication tools can help minimise the risk to the continuity of care caused by poor discharge planning.

Communicating with patients in meaningful ways is an essential aspect of patient-centred care. This is even more crucial in the context of dementia when usual ways of communicating start to break down. When people with dementia require significant support, effective communication is important to how well they eat and enjoy mealtimes.


These references were last accessed 7 December 2015.
  1. BAPEN (2003) MUST toolkit. Redditch: BAPEN.
  2. Healthcare Improvement Scotland (2011) Nutritional care communication tool. Edinburgh: Healthcare Improvement Scotland.
  3. NHS Dumfries and Galloway (2012) Communication and Mealtimes Toolkit Helping people with dementia to eat, drink & communicate. A guide for carers (PDF 7.8MB), Dumfries: NHS Dumfries and Galloway.
  4. NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (2008) SBAR Situation – Background – Assessment – Recommendation. NHS Institute website.
  5. RCN (2010) Principles of Nursing Practice. RCN.
  6. World Health Organization (2009) Human factors in patient safety. Review of topics and tools. Report for methods and measures working (PDF 1.10MB). Geneva: WHO.

Page last updated - 03/08/2019