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Communication boards in the ICU

Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Project Added:
23 September 2009
Last updated:
12 January 2015
Nurse showing the board to a patient

by Speech Pathology Respiratory and Critical Care Network, Sydney Local Health District

The introduction of communication boards in 5 Intensive Care Units (ICUs) has produced a positive change by increasing staff skills and improving communication with non-verbal patients. Patient satisfaction has also increased with reported improvements in communication success and reduced stress levels.

The boards were developed to address staff concerns about not understanding patient needs and wants, adequately addressing pain issues and comfort levels and patient frustration with communication breakdowns.

The communication board contains digital photos of locally used items. It includes:

  • reporting of pain location and severity
  • requests about patient care and comfort
  • commonly used procedures such as suctioning and mouth care
  • a staff photo page, enabling patients to request consultation with a specific discipline.

Pain images on board, pain scale, human figures and pained face.

The boards are laminated to allow cleaning between patients. Over 80 boards have been made and distributed.


Senior Speech Pathologist, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Local Health District
Phone: 02 9515 9841

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