Principles of communication in adult social care

Q 1.2 Explain how communication affects relationships in and adult social care setting?

A 1.2

When working in social care setting communication is a key factor, you need to be able to communicate with a wide range of people such as service users, families, members of staff, management and external professionals (i.e. GP’s, social services, nurses, consultants etc.) There are many different types of communication face to face, written, verbal, non-verbal, sign language, formal and informal. As a care worker you need to have a knowledge of the different types of communication to enable you to always meet your services user’s needs. If you cannot meet you service users need yourself for example if they speak a different language then ask management to provide and interpreter for you.

Communication is needed for all aspects of your role as a care worker it helps to build and maintain relationships with service users and colleagues. Communication helps to exchange information for example if you was about to hand over as your shift has finished you would communicate with the member of staff taking of care for your service user both verbally and in your hand over notes.

If you do not have good communication skills then service users are less likely to communicate with you and trust you which will affect you providing the best care an example of poor communication which affects the workplace is if a client is trying to tell you that they are being abused but you are not really listening, not showing and interest, not empathising with the client they are less likely to open up to you about the abuse.

Q 2.1 Compare ways to establish the communication and languages needs, wishes and preferences of an individual?

A 2.1

Firstly I would read the care plan to establish if the client has any known communication issues, if there is none I would talk to the service user. Whilst communicating with the service user I would ask questions about any problems they may have with communication watching their body language and reactions for any type of problems. For example is someone has hearing issues and they keep asking you to repeat the question or struggle to hear you I would recognise this by their body language, tone of voice and what they are saying. If I noticed this I would then speak more clearly and use a louder tone of voice for the service user to be able to hear me.

If a client was unable to communicate I would ask the family, other staff or any other professionals (audiologist, Speech and language therapist etc.) that are connected with the service user. Once I had found out the service users need I would ask the service user if this was appropriate for them and if so continue to use this type of communication. If the service user disagreed with the type of communication I suggested we would agree on another form of communication i.e. if they preferred picture cards to sign language.

Q 2.2 Describe the factors to consider when promoting effective communication?

A 2.2

Factors to consider when promoting effective communication are giving the client the choice to make their own decisions about the way that they communicate and the type of communication they use. For example if the client is visually impaired then tell the client all the different types of communication available and let them choose for their selves. Respecting the client’s choice and implementing it and respecting the client giving them the dignity that they are entitled to for example calling them by their chosen name Miss Mr Mrs etc.

Other factors to consider when promoting effective communication are the client’s disabilities, hearing loss, impair vision, mobility problems, speech impairment these can all affect how effective communication is. Cultural differences can affect how we communicate and the environment provided it is important to have a comfortable safe noise free environment before establishing effective communication.

Q 2.3 Describe a range of communication methods and styles to meet individual needs?

A 2.3

Verbal communication:

Tone and pitch of your voice, does it suit the situation or topic? A louder more direct communication maybe required if trying to talk to someone who has a hearing impairment.

Use of language is important, when talking to adults you need to keep things clear and simple, however if you are using very simple instructions this may be deemed as patronising, so it is important to choose your language carefully.

The speed in which you talk is also key. When talking to service users I would talk to them at a relatively slow speed, this way they are more likely to understand me more than if I was speaking very fast and unclearly.

Non-verbal communication:

Facial and hand gestures, again this needs to be tailored to the situation or topic.

Eye contact is an important factor as this engages the audience, keeping them focused on what you are discussing. By making eye contact you are directing your conversation at that specific person, demonstrating that you are devoting your time and are not able to be distracted as if you would by looking around.

Body language plays an important part, for example folded arms can indicate you are being defensive or not open to suggestions, whereas slouching, hands on hips, rolling of eyes and huffing can seem rude and disrespectful.

Written communication

Report, care plans, letter etc. these can be a way of communicating with someone who does not speak. Picture cards or sign language can be used for people who have a hearing impairment.

There are many other communication methods and styles that you can use to make sure you are always putting the communication and needs of your clients first.

Q 2.4 Explain why it is important to respond to an individual’s reactions when communicating?

A 2.4

It is important to respond to an individual’s reactions when communicating so that they are aware that you are listening. Responding using body language will also tell them if you are interested or not. For example if someone is telling you what they for Christmas last year and you huff and puff and role your eyes this would show that you are not really interested in what the person is saying. Response to reactions is also important to establish people’s needs and helps build and maintain relationships. If a service user can trust you they are more likely to open up to you and allow you to be a part of their care plan, whereas if the client cannot trust you they may refuse to be treated by you or communicate with you. Q 3.1 Explain how individuals from different backgrounds may use communication methods in different ways?

A 3.1

Communication can be slightly different when using it with other people from different backgrounds, it can be interpreted in different ways by different people, and this may be because they may do not speak English, if they are from a different country, or they may not understand you. If someone is religious they might have different opinions and views which can cause a communication problem but there are many different ways to communicate instead.

People from different backgrounds may use verbal communication to express what they think, however they could also use non-verbal communication to put their point across. Communication can be used in many ways by using different methods. People from different backgrounds can communicate by doing what they like best they could use body language and facial expressions to express their needs or what they want to do in the workplace.

People from different backgrounds can use communication by being confident. This shows their personality and will help the communication between them
and others around. Different backgrounds of different people can cause misunderstandings when using communicating an example of this is if two people have different first languages and are communicating they may say something that in their first language is offensive and this can be misinterpreted.

The personality can also affect the way an individual communicates. For example, if a person is shy they may not want to speak clearly and may use a little bit of verbal communication.

Q 3.2 Identify barriers to effective communication? Q 3.3 Explain how to overcome barriers to communication?

A 3.2 & 3.3

Speaking a different language: When someone speaks a different language or uses sign language, they may not be able to understand what the other person is trying to say. Sensory barriers: When someone cannot receive or pass on information because they have an impairment to one or more of their senses, the most common is hearing or seeing.

Emotional difficulties: Many of us have emotional difficulties at times and become very upset. For example you may have an argument with a member of your family or you may have had some bad news. This can affect communication by not being able to focus properly and can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes.

Health issues: When you are feeling ill, you may not be able to communicate as effectively as when you are feeling well. This can affect service users and other members of staff. Some long-term illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis or Dementia also affect an individual’s ability to communicate and you need to be aware of this if you are working with these people in the community.

There are a number of factors to consider, One is the tone of your voice does
it suit the situation? With a quiet tone your elderly service user may not hear everything you are saying. If you’re using a loud tone the service might think you are stereotyping by thinking all elderly adults are hard of hearing.

The speed of the way you talk is also very important if you talk to fast your service user may not understand. You also have your Non-verbal communication which for example would be face or hand gestures this also has to suit the situation and the service user. Eye contact is also very important factor as this engages the service user, keeping them focused on what you are talking about. By making eye contact you are directing your conversation to your service user, showing them that you are devoting your time and are not able to be distracted.

Q 3.4 Describe strategies that can be used to clarify misunderstandings?

A 3.4

There are many different strategies to clarify misunderstanding here are some examples of the breakdown in communication and how to overcome them:

Written communication can be misinterpreted for example is a formal letter is sent from the NHS stating that they are unable to see a patient because a limitation at their hospital and to try a different hospital. The patient may take offence to the way it is worded or may not understand why their hospital cannot cater for them even though the procedures are carried out there. The strategy to overcome this misunderstanding would be to call the hospital and ask them to questions to clarify what the letter is explaining.

Verbal communication can be misinterpreted also for example when there is language, speech, hearing, can all affect the interpretation of verbal communication and cause misunderstandings. Strategies to overcome these misunderstanding are to speak clear and concisely.

Q 3.5 Explain how to access extra support or services to enable individuals
to communicate effectively?

A 3.5

There are a number of services that can be accessed to support communication. These include:
• Interpreters
• Translators
• Signers
• Advocators

There is also a range of specialist equipment.
These include:
• Induction loops
• Braille embossers and printers
• Makaton

Each local government body should provide Language Support Services, which will include British Sign Language interpreters, deaf blind interpreters, lip speakers/readers, and note takers. These services can be utilised by educational and health services through a booking system. Each local authority educational department also has access to a team of support specialists including speech and language therapists.

Support can also be found on the internet through various specialist websites, including: • The British Deaf Society
• The National Blind Children’s Society

Q 4.1 Explain the meaning of the term confidentiality?

A 4.1

Confidentiality is when personal or private information obtained from or about an individual must only be shared with others on a need to know basis with the individual’s permission. Confidentiality is important in health and social care give you guidance on the information about service users you can disclose. If a service user gives you information about themselves then they would expect you to keep the information confidential. However when the information is at risk of putting the service user in danger or if a safeguarding and protection issue confidential information can be disclosed to others. Even though this can be done it is still always in the interest of the service user to make them aware that you are disclosing their information to others.

Q 4.2 Describe ways to maintain confidentiality in day to day communication?

A 4.2

There are many different ways to maintain confidentiality in day to day communication some of these are:

Making sure that service user’s notes are not left lying around for other people to see or read. Also making sure they are under lock and key when not in use.

Computerised information should only be accessed by persons who are authorised to have access and they should be password protected, making sure no unauthorised people know the password.

Conversations with service users should not be loud enough for others to hear and any personal conversations should be in a private room with the door closed.

Adhering to policies, procedures and legal requirements regarding confidentiality within your job role.

Q 4.3 Describe the potential tension between maintaining an individual’s confidentiality and disclosing concerns to agreed others?

A 4.3

Maintaining confidentiality means being trustworthy. If someone has told you something which you are not to repeat, if and when you repeat it, you are going to damage the relationship. If you feel you need to break the confidentiality for the safety and well-being, tell the person who confided in you that you are compelled to say something. Perhaps the two of you can figure out a way to do this with the least amount of repercussions. Don’t just go behind the confiders back.

4.4 Explain how and when to seek advice about confidentiality?

A 4.4

People who have been given information in confidence, or who have acquired information which they regard as confidential, may not always be sure whether they should disclose this information or not. In these circumstances it may be sensible to seek advice from an appropriate person (e.g. a manager) on whether the matter is important enough to breach confidentiality, and if so, to whom they should report their concerns. This should be done without divulging the name of the service user. A concern for confidentiality should not prevent communication that is necessary to help service users in difficulty. Promises of confidentiality is not always appropriate or sensible to give service users who may wish to talk about personal problems. It may be necessary to say to the service users that information may be shared with others who need to know it, if this is in the best interests of the individual for example is the service user discloses that they are being abused a care workers has a duty of care to safeguard and protect them.

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