Considerations for development of student communication skills in an aged care context

In aged care placement settings, students may encounter clients who have specific or different communication needs.  These might include:

  • Losing ability to communicate (for example degenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and/or neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease)
  • Changing ability to communicate (for example stroke rehabilitation)
  • Communication interference (for example sensory aids)
  • Aged related decline in vision and hearing
  • Aging with an existing communication deficit
  • Culturally and generational respectful communication
  • Communication strategies in palliative care
  • Communication strategies in discharge planning

 It is important to consider:

  • How to address the client in a culturally respectful manner.
  • How the use of non-verbal communication, including body language and facial expressions, can be used to optimise the assessment.
  • How the adequacy of the client’s communication support mechanisms (eg. Hearing aids and glasses) can impact the assessment.
  • How gaining consent and ensuring client confidentiality might be affected if the client has specific or different communication needs.
  • How communication approach might need to be adjusted for palliative care settings
  • The type of communication skills required for discharge planning.


Resources to support communication in Aged Care:



For people who are deaf or hard of hearing

For palliative care

For mental health

  • MHPOD Learning Portal – has two open access eLearning modules:
    • Mental Health for Older Persons: Conditions and Assessments
    • Mental Health for Older Persons:  Interventions
    • These topics explore the transition to old age and the changes to physical health that can either co-occur with, or masquerade as mental illness.



Please Note: References remain valid until superseded by later research. The resources referenced here are regularly reviewed and are considered current and relevant to the topics presented.

  • Yorkston, K. M., Bourgeois, M. S., & Baylor, C. R. (2010). Communication and aging. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America21(2), 309–319.


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