This qualitative study aimed to describe patients' and caregivers' views on referral–consultation communication, how communication impacted their care and their perspectives on the components required in high-quality communication. Purposeful and convenience sampling was used to recruit participants from urban and rural areas who had been referred to Alberta specialists. Twenty participants joined one of four focus groups – two in-person and two teleconferences. Thematic analysis was conducted on the transcripts and field notes using NVivo 12 Pro. Participants reported inadequate communication between patients, family physicians and specialists. They discussed how incomplete information impacted their continuity of care, led to inappropriate referrals and caused delays in timely diagnosis or follow-up, all of which resulted in health consequences. They wanted physicians and healthcare professionals to engage them using a person-centred approach and provide a point of contact and timely updates of their referral statuses. This article includes participant feedback that can be used to improve closed-loop communications for referrals.