Acknowledge- initially use direct eye contact but be mindful that the patient using direct eye contact may be disrespectful in some cultures-look for cues from your patient. Smile and greet them. A handshake or simple nod of the head are universal signs of acknowledgement.
Introduce- always look at the patient even when using an interpreter to communicate with the patient. Let them know who you are (your role) and the purpose of your encounter with them. Using an interpreter gives the patient the opportunity to express their concerns and for you to discover information pertinent to their current state of health.
Duration- keep the patient informed of what times meals are served-provision of food is not only needed for sustaining life but is also expected, tests or procedures are scheduled for-the patient has no idea what to expect unless someone tells them and decisions that may be pending physician arrival-they may feel information is being withheld unless someone explains that some information should only be discussed with them by the physician.
Explanation- let patients know goals for the day and if they have any questions. Ask if they need any educational material in their preferred language. Do not assume that the patient can read or write. They may also prefer to speak in english or read in another language. Check with your patient and communicate in whatever method they learn best in.
Thank you- always be polite and thank your patient using direct eye contact. Although you may be using an interpreter, body language can also help put the patient at ease and develop trust in the staff.