P4 “Explain strategies used in health and social care environments to overcome barriers to effective communication” Effective communication is part of the core skills required by all health and social care practitioners to ensure that they are effective at meeting the needs of the people who use the services. In order to develop effective communication skills, practitioners need to be aware of and implement the use of communication theories. A wide range of communication theories exist to support effective communication between practitioners and people who use the services within health and social care environments.
Language – If the person’s first language isn’t English this can cause a huge barrier, especially if the person doesn’t know a word of English. To overcome this barrier, it might be advisable for carers to apply for an advocate or translator to help this person feel more comfortable in the care setting.
Speech difficulties or aphasia – Aphasia is where a person is physically unable to speak; this may be due to a recent stroke or some mental impairment. In this case, it is important to use some other form of communication other than verbal communication. Graphic or specialist forms of communication can be used to understand what the person’s needs are.
Confidence issues – Someone who is very shy may not feel comfortable to verbally communicate their needs; in this case, a carer would need to ensure the person had some other way of communicating e.g. Paper and pen to graphically communicate their needs. It is important for all clients to feel comfortable around carers, so they can communicate their needs effectively.
Disabilities – (physical, learning, mental); a person with a learning difficulty, depending on how severe, may find it hard to communicate non-verbally or graphically, therefore might find it easier to verbally communicate. A physical disability may prevent someone actually accessing the services they need, let alone the care they need; in this case, carers need to help those clients as much as possible. This could be done by a carer going into the person’s home; it could also be done by social workers
providing Meals-on-wheels services to those who are house-bound.
Speech communities – This is where people have a specific way of talking to people of the same age; this can cause a barrier because a person may use language that a carer may not understand. This can also include medical terminology or jargon; if a doctor uses a lot of technical terms when describing a disease or illness to a patient, the patient is likely to not understand what is happening, so it is important for the doctor to use language that the patient understands.
Timing – A carer must choose the right time to go and communicate with a service user as they may not be ready to receive important information or they may not be in right frame of mind. This would cause a barrier because they won’t be able to correctly process the information. To overcome this barrier, the carer must ask the service user when would be the best time to talk.
Environmental issues – To communicate effectively with a service user, the environment must be right. Having noise, temperature too high or too low, incorrect lighting or other people in the room can cause barriers to communication. To overcome this barrier you will need to make sure there is no background noise so that the service user is not distracted. Making sure the temperature is not too high or too low can cause barriers to communication as an unsuitable room temperature can make the service user feel uncomfortable. When giving information to a service user, make sure there is no one else in the room as this could make the service user feel uncomfortable.
Sensory deprivation – When working in the health and social care sector, it is likely that you’ll come across service users who have a visual or hearing impairment, to overcome this barrier you must make sure you know alternative methods of communication for example; Sign language, otherwise it would be near impossible to communicate to the service user if he/she is deaf and you can’t sign. You could also make sure service user has hearing aid turned on.