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Communication Skills in Health and Social Care Settings.

communication

The act of effective interaction between individuals can be obtained by spoken words or by other means. For communication to occur there has to be at least two people involved. The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently is one of the most important skills that can be gained by a healthcare professional.

What is Communication?

In a simple definition, communication is the process of sending or receiving messages between two or more individuals.

Effective communication is more than just talking, and is essential for the well-being of the individuals you care for.It includes body language, gestures, facial expressions, positioning and appearance.It is important to be aware of non-verbal communication when interacting with your individuals at work.

It is impossible to do without communication in health and social care, we have many reasons to communicate and it is essential communication is done effectively without misunderstanding others or being misunderstood. We communicate with:

  • Patients, residents, clients,
  • Health care professionals,
  • Managers and supervisors,
  • Family and friends.
The individuals you work with may have barriers to communicating effectively such as:
  • Speech difficulties due to disabilities’ or illness e.g. Dementia, stroke
  • Deafness
  • Poor Sight
  • Noisy Environment
  • Poor Cognitive Skills e.g. learning disabilities
  • Difference in Language spoken
Therefore good communication skills are required to carry out your responsibilities as a healthcare professional. If you are working with an individual who has dementia, there can be many difficulties especially when the disease progresses, but there are ways to communicate effectively. Some skills to develop are:

 

  • Listening skills
  • Questioning skills
  • Explaining skills

You would have to ensure that:

  • The language used is kept simple because unfamiliar words will be difficult to understand coupled with unfamiliar accents as well.
  • Your speech should be at the correct pace, slow if required and the individual given enough time to respond.
  • Where possible sentences should be kept short, making just one point at a time. If the person has a short memory its important sentences are short and repeated more than once so that the individual can remember the point being made.
  • Communication is much difficult with background noise therefore it should be removed as this causes distraction.
  • If the communication barrier is strong, words alone will not be effective therefore you will need the use of gestures, body language, facial expression, touch etc.

There are many other ways to support individuals at work with effective communication such as the use of:

Human aids – translators, interpreters,

Technical aids – hearing aids, computers

Symbolic aids – Makaton, Sign Language, pictorial aids.

The Units HSC21, HSC31 & HSC41 within the NVQ focus on Communication and record keeping and they are mandatory units. Get more information on effective communication skills from our related resources.

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