Health conditions and communication impediments
Effective communication can be prevented by conditions such as dementia, stroke, autism or sensory impairment, or cases where the service user lacks capacity to make decisions. To overcome this, try to use different communication methods and repeat the communication several times. Check for understanding by asking questions.
All individuals on the autistic spectrum have some difficulties in the arena of social communication. But as autism is a spectrum condition, there is enormous diversity within this common difficulty. Staff will need to adapt their approach to communication in order to take account of an individual’s specific preferences and needs. There may be communication impediments such as poor hearing, poor vision and speech impediments such as aphasia (inability to speak) that may make communication very difficult. Check to see what other communication methods might be appropriate, for example, photographs, pictures, or sign language.
Service users who are deaf
Working with a deaf service user can present specific challenges with regards to communication, such as the impact on care planning and assessment, and access to interpreters. Paying attention to the individuality of what it means to be deaf or and how it relates to an individual’s personal biography and life experience is a key starting point.
Inaccurate information and lack of understanding
When service users are given inaccurate information or poor explanations, this can be very confusing and can hinder understanding of what is being said. To overcome this, ensure all the required information is available, or if the answer is not known, find out the answer and communicate this back to the person as soon as possible. A lack of understanding of service users can also create communication barriers. Empathy is an important aspect of caring for people and staff should try to understand things from the other person’s point of view.
Culture and language
Translation services may be required but beware of using family members to translate as there may be problems with them communicating difficult issues, or issues they don’t want their relative to know about, resulting in them giving different or inaccurate information.
If someone is angry about their condition or diagnosis it may be difficult to talk to them about their proposed care and treatment. Anger is a difficult situation to overcome except by acknowledging that it exists and offering to help when the person is ready to receive it. Verbal communication comes in two forms, written and oral. In social care we are often concerned with oral communication although, at times, we will need to leave written instructions or messages for others and to record information accurately in care records.
It is important that all significant communications are recorded and reported accurately and in detail so that all those involved in the care and treatment of the person and their family know what questions have been asked and answered, what decisions have been taken and what additional care and treatment has subsequently been organised.
As part of communication we deliver effective courses aimed at assisting carers understand what is expected of them in regards to maintaining accurate up to date records and documents. The course will help carers improve their communication skills through teaching best practice documentation and record keeping skills.