There are a number of barriers to effective communication in health and social care. One of these is the environment. If the environment gets in the way of effective communication, then the receiver may not understand the message that is being given to them. • Seating positions Rooms with awkward seating positions might mean that two people cannot see each other properly. For example if a nurse is talking to a patient and the patient is leaning back at about 135 degrees, this would mean that the patient is not paying attention to what the nurse is communicating.
So the patient (receiver) may not understand the message that is being given to him. To overcome this barrier, people communicating in a health and social care setting would sit in a room around a desk like this. This is so that both of them are comfortable and can see each other properly. • Background noise It is very hard to hear what someone is saying if there is a lot of background noise. A noisy environment is especially difficult and unpleasant for someone who is using hearing aid. Hearing aids will amplify background noise as well as the voice of the speaker.
In a health and social care setting, if there would be a busy hospital being too busy or loud. If a patient is in a busy ward and the nurse is talking to him he may not receive her message due to excessive noise, phones ringing and people rushing in and out. This would make the conversation unsuccessful as it distracts their concentration. To overcome this barrier they will have to restrict people from rushing in and out to avoid noise. Also they would have to communicate in a room where it is quiet and so that the message can be understood by the receiver.
This is not always possible as there are patient’s relatives that really want to meet the patient. Therefore you cannot stop them. • Lighting It is very difficult to make sense of other people’s facial expressions if you can’t see their face properly due to poor lighting. Good lightening will be critical for someone who supports their understanding of speech with lip reading. Poor lighting takes away visual signs of communication and body language that a patient and nurse would need. To overcome this barrier the lighting should adequate.
It shouldn’t be too bright or too dark as bright light can gives some people headache. If the lighting is too dark then the people communicating in a health and social care will not be able to see each other clearly. • Distance barriers People sometimes feel uncomfortable if they are trying to communicate to a health and social care worker who is close. Long distance can weaken effective communications in that it takes longer for verbal communication to reach its target and sometimes visual signs and body language are taken out of the equation.
The levels of proximity dare different depending on the environment. For example when you are familiar with an individual your proximity with them will be more likely to be closer. However if you are at that same level of proximity with an unfamiliar person you may feel awkward and very uncomfortable therefore this would be seen through your body language. To overcome this barrier there should be a medium distance between people so that everyone feels comfortable. • Temperature A room that is too hot, stuffy or cold may prevent communication if it makes people feel tired or stressed.
This could make communication unsuccessful. To overcome this barrier the air conditioning should be on so that the temperature doesn’t prevent effective communication. Also this will make communication successful as the message coded will be understood by the receiver. The key to effective communications is to recognise and eliminate all or as much of these environmental factors that take away from the communications procedure. While there may be some factors that you cannot control, the fact is there are many of them you can and should eliminate. Complex or sensitive issues
Complex or sensitive issues mean information which include lots of information and can be complicated or giving somebody sad news about their family relative’s passing away. This could be difficult to communicate because everyone has different emotions, feelings, personalities, likes and dislikes and of course their level of understanding different things. Sometimes communication can be complex. For example, a relative may want to know about funding arrangements for care. A communication of funding might involve a great deal of complex information.
In this situation it would be important to check what the relative already knew, and whether or not the individual understood the information the care worker was providing. To overcome this barrier information on a piece of paper should be provided when discussing complex issues. As the information is confidential, these should be discussed in an appropriate environment. Furthermore to overcome this barrier a health care worker should ensure that each service user feels that they can trust you as the service provider.
The service user must also feel respected and be given privacy if and when necessary to avoid any communication barriers. A great deal of communication in care work involves building an understanding of another person and providing emotional support. Communication that involves emotional issues is often experienced as being difficult or sensitive. There is no advice or information that is likely to be very useful to a person who is overwhelmed by grief, but many people do want someone to be with them.
Communication in this difficult or sensitive situation should focus on emotional needs, rather than giving out information. To overcome this barrier a health care worker needs to fully understand the person the care worker is communicating with before responding to anything that they say. Furthermore the care worker has to be confident in the information that he/she is providing, for example when announcing grief to someone, it is important that we think about a much appropriate way to say it to provide them emotional care and support.
To overcome those barriers, a caring presence should be created. This is about sharing an understanding of the feelings that other people may be experiencing. For example if a service user’s mother passed away this would be a deep grief for him/her. Thus it is the service provider’s responsibility to provide care and comfort so that any communication barrier is avoided and better rapport can be built. Communication/ language needs/ preferences Sometimes service users may have a preferred first language which a service provider may be unfamiliar with, this can create a communication barrier.
As this can affect communication e. g. the service user may be Polish and he can’t understand English, this would be difficult for the care worker as he can’t understand what messages the service user may convey and the care worker. Also it is appropriate for the service user to convey his message to the care worker as both of them aren’t familiar with each other’s language. On the other hand if the service user and the care worker are aware and familiar with British Sign language they may be able to overcome the barrier by using non-verbal communication.
Also, for example people may use jargon, dialect or slang to communicate effectively with people in their own speech community. These differences can create barriers to understanding. To overcome those barriers people could use body gestures or use a Google translator as in most health and social care sectors, the internet is available. Likewise it can be difficult to communicate with people with mental disabilities as their senses are out of control, they don’t know how to communicate with other people this can create a great barrier in communication as the message the health care worker codes and sends may not be decoded easily.
In addition individuals with mental disabilities may find it difficult to code, send, decode or comprehend messages this can create a big barrier in communication as the service provider is unable to send or receive information from them. To overcome those barriers service providers should be trained in speaking different languages that the service users speak in order to meet the language needs of the service users. Likewise if the service user has a mental disability then staff members should be taught to speak makaton in order to communicate and meet the needs of the less able individuals.
Also there are other ways to meet the needs of service users with a different language for example there are aids to communication such as human aids for instance if the employer hires translators or interpreters it may be very effective and appropriate to communicate with people who have a different language. Another effective way of overcoming this barrier is to teach the staff about non-verbal communication because it is easier to understand non-verbal communication rather than learning new languages which is very difficult.
Moreover in today’s world, every individual is likely to be familiar with reading non-verbal messages, the body language, facial expressions and gestures can express the fact that we are either happy or upset. For example there is a simple thumb sign we do with our hands to show that we are satisfied, fine or wishing good luck to another person. These gestures are applied in our daily lives and they are very simple and quick to understand. The effects of drugs and alcohol Drugs and alcohol can have a negative impact when someone tries to send a clear verbal or nonverbal message.
When you’re drunk you don’t think before you speak. You can be aggressive, make demands, bad facial expressions, or be rude. People may ignore you because your message is being distorted or they might be frustrated. Drugs can also affect your brain; you can be unconscious of what you’re doing. The barriers which are created by drinking of alcohol and taking drugs are that the individual may find it hard coding or sending the message therefore making it difficult for the receiver to decode and understand the service user’s message.
In addition drugs can also affect your posture, facial expressions, proximity and voice tone. Thus it can affect the way you appear to others and present yourself, so people might misjudge what kind of a person you are. For instance when you are drunk you tend to be loud and out of control, thus making you appear aggressive in front of people. By observing your appearance people are more likely to avoid associating with you which creates a barrier in communication.
In a health and social care sector, staff members are often qualified to communicate and get their message across to drunk people who may be aggressive. Service providers are trained to stay calm and confident in order to calm the service user down in order to decrease the violence the individual is showing. Moreover it would be better to postpone the time or change the place of the conversation to a quieter and calm setting as it would be more effective.
For example rearranging the whole conversation can prevent any misconceptions of messages however it can also waste time in getting your message across. Furthermore staff should be provided with training on how to deal with people who are under the effects of drugs and alcohol can be rather time consuming and expensive. In addition if the trained staff try to calm an aggressive person who is drunk there is a possibility that the aggressive person may cause the staff member physical harm so sometimes trying to calm an aggressive person down may put you in anger as the aggressive drunk person may not be able to reason and think clearly as the individual is under the effects of alcohol and drugs.
To overcome these barriers a service provider should stay calm, show respect. The health care worker must show appropriate non-verbal behaviour and avoid making demands as this could make the drink person angry or aggressive. Sensory impairments/disabilities An individual with sensory impairment signifies that the person’s senses don’t work capably. Sensory impairment includes visual, hearing, physical and intellectual hearing.
People with sensory impairments such as hearing impairment may find it difficult to receive messages via listening therefore ruining the communication cycle because when we send a message through speaking the other individual with hearing impairment may not receive and decode the service provider’s message efficiently. Visual impairment means when a person’s eye sight cannot be improved using contacts or glasses. Visual impairment can form a barrier in communication by not allowing the individual receive visual messages precisely such as written communication, gestures and non-verbal communication such as sign language.
To overcome barriers which are linked to sensory impairments in a health and social care sector, should be provided with aids to communication such as technical aids. For example hearing aids should be available for individuals with hearing impairments as these allow them to hear and receive verbal messages. Also asking help from a communicator or interpreter for signed languages would be very beneficial for people with hearing impairments, Therefore it removes the barrier related to hearing impairments.
In addition to communicate with people who have visual impairment, health care workers could use simple verbal communication. Also they should assist people to touch things. For example they may want to touch your face to recognise you. Also a service provider should check what people can see as many registered blind people can see shapes, or tell light from dark. Though this training can take away a lot of time and when the staff is being trained, staff shortages could occur. BESD means having social, emotional or behavioural behaviour difficulties.
The special education needs code of practice describes BESD as a learning difficulty where children and young people demonstrate features of emotional and behavioural difficulties such as being withdrawn or isolated. The children display a disruptive and disturbing nature. They are hyperactive and lack in concentration. They have immature social skills and present challenging behaviours arising from other complex special needs. They have trouble conveying their messages and they may not be able to comprehend other people’s needs or messages.
It affects communication because of trust issues. They are unable to understand or pay attention to the rules of conversation. This they might interrupt the service provider. People with BESD have difficulties using appropriate language for appropriate situations. So they might seem rude or inappropriate. They have poor or limited vocabulary; therefore they might swear or always answer in the same way. Also they have problems understanding idiom, jokes, sarcasm and slang. Therefore they may be confused or aggressive when these are used.
To overcome these barriers a service provider should be confident, stay calm, be polite and use a medium tone of voice. The service provider should not be provocative and should not use slang or idioms that they may not be familiar with. Emotional issues Emotional issues include self-esteem, personality, depression, aggression, anxiety and submissiveness. Self-esteem means how an individual values himself. This can cause a great barrier in a health and social care sector. For example a person might not have courage to tell the service provider something he/she is embarrassed about because he feels humiliated.
Self-esteem can also disturb the communication cycle because trying to get across some information into a message for a person with low self-esteem may be difficult because a health and social care worker need to use suitable language, words and gentle tone of voice to make sure that care workers do not cause offence to the service user. Moreover a service provider needs to make sure that he/she shows compassion to the service user to lift his/her self-esteem. A service provider needs to be an active listener as it will ensure they get all the relevant information about the service user.
In order to build rapport with the service users, health care workers should show compassion, should be trustworthy and should be able to deal and help the service users in all circumstances. Also health care workers could let the service users know that they are empowered to their rights such as confidentiality as this would make the service user more comfortable and make the person trust the health care worker with their private and confidential information. Assertiveness is very important when dealing with emotional issues. Fear and aggression are two basic emotions that everyone experiences.
When we feel stressed it is easy to give in to our basic emotions and be either submissive or aggressive. Assertion is an advanced skill, which involves controlling your basic emotions that usually prompt you to run away or fight. It involves a mental attitude whereby you try to discuss, and try to solve the problem rather than give in to emotional desires. For example if a patient is being aggressive, the service provider should deal with him by showing fortitude, respect and compassion rather than becoming aggressive and showing an unprofessional behaviour.
Assumptions, values, beliefs and culture Building an understanding of other people’s needs takes time and effort. Jumping to conclusions and making assumptions can save mental effort and time, but assumptions may cause us to interpret what another person is trying to communicate. For example, you might believe that you don’t need to listen to a person because you already know what their needs are. But care workers who use the communication cycle are less likely to make assumptions because they check their understanding.
Assumptions can create a barrier because people stop listening and checking their understanding of other people’s communication. If care workers are not aware of their behaviour, it can result in discrimination. For example if an old person comes to meet a service user and he has been asked to answer some questions. If he does not answer them quickly, correctly and clearly, he will be seen as demented which results in prejudice and prejudice would mean discrimination. When people have different belief system and values it is easy for them to misinterpret one another’s intentions when attempting to communicate.
Like assumptions, belief systems and values can therefore create barriers to understanding. It is therefore important to try to learn about other people’s beliefs and values in order to make sense of what they are trying to communicate. To prevent assumptions a health care worker should be open minded and try to get to know the service user so the care worker knows more about them and so that they don’t jump to conclusions because of their appearances. This is beneficial as it enables the care worker to know more about the individual. Thus it prevents stereotyping or labelling them.
Courtney from Study Moose
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