Effectively Communicating Older People’s Care Needs


Published: 23 April 2024

Effective communication and information management within an aged care organisation means that older people only need to tell their stories once instead of repeating themselves to each staff member they interact with.

By ensuring that all people involved in an older person’s care are informed about the person’s condition, needs, goals and preferences, the workforce will be able to coordinate their care in a way that improves outcomes for all parties involved (ACQSC 2023).

On the other hand, if the information is not effectively communicated between staff, care mistakes and, in severe cases, harm to care recipients, can occur. As well as being detrimental to those in your care, this can also lead to reduced trust in the care team and additional stress for staff (AHRQ 2017).

In order to effectively transfer information between members of the care team, sound internal communication processes and information management systems are required within the organisation (ACQSC 2023).

There is no single universal process that all aged care providers must follow, but it’s important that the method chosen by the organisation is efficient and appropriate (ACQSC 2023).

Communicating Care Needs Under the Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards

Standard 3: Care and Services - Outcome 3.3: Communicating for safety and quality under the strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards requires aged care organisations to implement a communication system for effectively and promptly relaying care information about older people to relevant staff, family, carers, and health professionals (ACQSC 2024a).

Information about an older person should be communicated between members of the care team when:

  • Care and services are commenced
  • The person’s needs, goals or preferences change
  • New risks arise
  • During staff handover
  • The person experiences a change in circumstances, their condition deteriorates or they experience an incident
  • A transition of care occurs.

(ACQSC 2024a)

Furthermore, there should also be processes implemented to:

  • Enable older people, family, carers and health professionals to raise concerns about a change in the person’s health, safety or wellbeing
  • Ensure older people are correctly identified and matched to their care
  • Provide Care Statements to older people receiving residential aged care services.

(ACQSC 2024a)

The Benefits of Effective Communication

Ensuring that all people involved in a particular person's care understand their condition, needs, goals and preferences has several benefits, including:

  • Improved safety, effectiveness and consistency of care
  • Reduced risk of harm to the person
  • An improved care experience for the person
  • A care experience that reflects the person’s preferences
  • Increased satisfaction for the person
  • Improved staff morale and productivity
  • Reduced risk of mistakes being made by staff
  • Strengthening of the organisation’s commitment to its mission.

(ACQSC 2023; CareVision 2021)

Privacy and Consent

Always remember to comply with relevant privacy legislation when gathering, using, storing and disclosing older people’s personal information (ACQSC 2024b).

You must also gain informed consent from older people before sharing their information with others (ACQSC 2024b).

More information about privacy and consent can be found in the Ausmed Articles below:


Teamwork is a crucial part of effective communication and is associated with positive care outcomes.

The following four components of teamwork have been found to reduce errors in care:

  1. Ensuring every member of the care team understands the protocols and plans being used
  2. Advocating for care recipients and creating an environment where staff feel comfortable speaking up if they believe a person is at risk
  3. Understanding care recipients’ care plans and prioritising the right tasks
  4. Cross-monitoring staff for errors and correcting if necessary.

(Health.vic 2015)

Other important principles of teamwork include:

  • Holding regular team meetings
  • Using language that everyone understands
  • Maintaining thorough documentation
  • Understanding who is part of the care team at any given time
  • Establishing shared goals to be understood and supported by all members of the care team
  • Ensuring each staff member has clear roles and responsibilities
  • Mutual trust and respect between staff members
  • Ensuring communication between staff is tailored, open, honest and respectful.

(Health.vic 2015; ACSQHC 2021)

Effectively Communicating Residents’ Care Needs staff team meeting

How Can Aged Care Organisations Facilitate Effective Communication?

  • Provide consistent services and supports and continuity of care
  • Coordinate services and supports effectively
  • Ensure all staff have correct and up-to-date information about care recipients
  • Ensure all staff have a clear understanding of information-sharing and consent legislation and policies
  • Provide training and orientation to support staff to effectively coordinate care
  • Establish an information management system that complies with relevant legislation and privacy requirements
  • Actively communicate with internal and external parties to ensure supports and services are delivered without interruption
  • Monitor how staff manage and follow-up on information, including information gaps, pending and missing information
  • Communicate important information about care recipients to other service providers when necessary.

(ACQSC 2023)


In order to deliver safe and effective care, aged care organisations need to ensure that information about an older person’s condition, needs, goals, and preferences is effectively communicated between members of the care team as well as other parties that share responsibility for the person’s care.

This will prevent older people in your care from constantly needing to remind staff of their needs, as well as reduce the risk of mistakes and harm from occurring.


Test Your Knowledge

Question 1 of 3

Which one of the following can help to ensure continuity of care?


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