Ensuring communication access for all during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: supporting patients, providers, and caregivers in hospitals

Tami Altschuler, Rachel Santiago, Jessica Gormley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed substantial gaps in communication access for patients across hospital settings. With the rise in positive cases globally, the need for communication enhancement strategies, including augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), has emerged as a critical need. Many resources exist that describe AAC assessment and intervention processes in the acute care setting; however, AAC service provision in the COVID-19 pandemic is fraught with many unanticipated challenges. Patients, providers, and caregivers have encountered significant communication strain both at the bedside and beyond hospital walls, resulting in a communication crisis induced by many COVID-19 related variables. This article describes the sequelae of symptoms a person with COVID-19 may experience, progression of communication needs, and evidence-based solutions to supporting communication access. Barriers related to the COVID-19 pandemic are outlined (e.g., evolving infection control practices, personal protective equipment requirements, visitor policies, and more) along with response recommendations to support communication enhancement efforts for people with and without COVID-19 benefiting from access to AAC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • communication access COVID-19
  • hospital
  • patient-provider communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing

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