01.04 Communicating with UAPs

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Included In This Lesson



  1. Techs, care partners
  2. Respect
  3. Give explanation of why

Nursing Points


  1. Respect
    1. Please and thank you
    2. Ask if they can, don’t order
  2. Explanation
    1. Explain what you have to do and will be doing while they do the task
  3. Direction
    1. Clear on what is needed and what the priority is
    2. Give instruction if you need follow up
      1. Ie: blood sugar result
    3. Remember the delegation rules
      1. Ensure that the UAP can do the task
        1. Right task
        2. Right circumstance
        3. Right person
        4. Right communication
        5. Right supervision


In this lesson we are going to talk about the best way to communicate with UAPs which stands for Unlicensed Assistive Personnel.
UAPs are also known as patient care techs or care partners and it is just anyone that is unlicensed and there to help provide care to the patient. When I first became a nurse I had a really hard time with this communication because I had been a patient care tech on the unit I was now working as a nurse on and had done all those jobs and tasks that I was supposed to be delegating. It was a hard adjustment but learned that I couldn’t do it all and I was going to have to communicate and delegate so I could get my work done. Now let’s look at some helpful communication tips for nurse and UAP communication.

So first respect. Please and thank you go along way. UAPs have a hard job and are pulled in multiple directions by many nurses and patients so keep that in mind when you need help. Many of you have probably been a UAP during nursing school so keep in mind how that was for you. You have so many tasks to do plus the never ending call bell. Ask them if they can or are able instead of ordering them to. It help to given an explanation. So explain what you have to do and will be doing while they do the task. A simple “hey I have to go start and IV and give medications to room 302 could you please help feed the patient in 305 for me?” And then direction is also important in communication. Let me give you a scenario that happened on my unit that could have been avoided if clear direct communication had occurred. We had a patient care tech helping during circumcisions one morning and just cleaning the restraint boards and getting set up. A nurse rolled her baby into the nursery with emla ointment in the crib that is used by some doctors for numbing. She said “can someone put the emla on the baby for me?” and went to grab another baby. Later when they went to sign off on the paper MAR it was realized that the PCT had put the emla on. She had seen it done multiple times and didn’t think of it as medication. Both the nurse and the tech had to be reported by management because of this. If the nurse had one not just let the medicine in the crib but also been direct and asked a specific nurse to apply it then the situation would not have occurred. So remember those rules of delegation so you are clear on what can be delegated to the UAPs. Right task, circumstance, person, communication, and supervision. We want help but don’t want to misdeligate. When offering tasks to be done also be clear on what the priority. You are the nurse and you know what needs to happen first. So make sure they know the priority if there is one and then also be very clear on instruction if you need a follow up. For example if you need them to take a blood pressure or get a blood sugar then also communicate the need for them to come report the number to you.

Ok let’s review. It is important to always be respectful. You are the nurse and they are a UAP. They are there to help but not be ordered around so please and thank you can go a long way. Make sure if you are giving a list of items to be done that if one is a priority then that is included in the communication. Ensure follow up is done on any task as part of the communication as well. And give an explanation. It goes better to ask “hey can you do such and such because I have to do such and such”. This way it doesn’t look like you are doing nothing. It is just received better.

Make sure you review the key points and rules of delegation to make sure you are communicating properly with UAPs and start putting them into practice. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing.