1.1The importance of meeting a service user’s communication needs is very important. In my job role I need to communicate with people all the time. First and foremost the service user I am supporting, but there are also their family and friends, who are likely to be involved in the personal support plan.
The way in which I communicate will be different depending on the service user I am communicating with and the purpose of which I am communicating. It is my responsibility to make sure that my communication skills meet the need of the service users I support. I should not expect the service users to adjust their communication to fit in with me.
Any relationship comes about through communication. In order to be effective in providing care and support. Good communication is essential to effective care and is particularly important to service users, as poor communication can often lead to service users missing essential information and therefore miss out on something important to them. It is very important to establish and accommodate a service user’s preferred means of communication.
1.2My own role and practices can impact on communication with a service user who has specific communication needs by me understanding their communication requirements and recognising signals (body language).
During my role as a support worker, I find that the time that a service user communicates to me the most is when I am supporting a service user with their personal hygiene needs. Whilst supporting them I communicate with them using their specific communication needs, I have either read their personal support plan before attending to their personal hygiene needs (new service user) or I know the service user and I am familiar with their specific communication needs. During this period of time, not only do I lead an open friendly chat using language that the service will understand (no technical terms or jargon) giving the service user plenty of time to respond and I ensure I use open questions.
I also observe the service user’s body language and a lot of information can be picked up on without verbally saying anything. Throughout my daily routine at work I often have to rush about. I feel sometimes this can have a detrimental effect on the service users I support as they may feel that I am too busy for them to talk to me. I often have to stop and think about how my actions can affect those around me. However when I do pass a service user I always say hello to them and can usually judge by their reaction (facial expression, the way they respond to me or do not respond to me or their body language) if there is something wrong.
I will obviously stop and ask them an open ended question such as how can I help? You or you look a bit sad shall we go somewhere quiet and talk about what’s troubling you? Another way my practises can impact on communication with a service user with specific communication needs is by them asking for help and by me responding by saying I’ll be back in five minutes and not returning to the service user.
1.3Features of the environment that may help or hinder communication are: •Good/poor lighting •Lack of privacy. •Distraction. •Noise. •Temperature. A service user may have poor eyesight and with poor lighting the service user may not be able to see me to communicate with. Or it may also too bright and again the service user may not be able to see me to communicate with me. In the care home setting there is often a lack of privacy this may hinder communication as the service user may not feel comfortable talking about anything in front of people.
Distraction can also be an environmental factor a service user may be talking to me and something could distract them from what they are saying. This could lead them to loose track of what they are saying. Noise can help or hinder in communication. A service use who is less confident might feel that their voice can not be heard above the noise when communicating with support staff. Or it can hinder with communication if the person has a hearing impairment and the room is noisy the service user may not be able to hear effectively. If the room is too hot this could make the service user feel sleepy or if the room is too cold the service user may not want to stay in the room and go somewhere else.
1.4There could be several reasons why a service user may not use a form of communication that is not based on a formal language system. One reason could be due to hearing difficulties, in which case they will use sign language, another reason could be because of learning problems, and these people use a form of body language, some might use their eyes, whilst others communicate by making facial expressions or sounds or even pointing. A further reason could be due to a severe medical condition, and in some of these cases the individual can learn to use electronic equipment to communicate.
1.5There are several communication methods and aids to support service users to support them in their communication needs. These are: •Hearing aids. •Sign language. •Lip reading. •Glasses or contact lenses. •Letter boards. •Using gestures. •Speaking slowly and clearly. •Electronic communication aid.
Hearing aids are used with people that have a hearing impairment they can improve a person ability to hear. When supporting a service user who uses a hearing aid you must always ensure that the hearing aid is working properly, fitted correctly, clean, installed with fresh batteries and is doing its job properly in terms of improving the service users hearing. Some people may lip read, while other may use sign language for communicating. When supporting a service user who uses either of these as a form of communication, when communicating with them you must ensure that you are sitting in good light, not too far away and you speak clearly, but do not shout. Shouting distorts your face and makes it more difficult for a person with hearing loss to be able to read what you are saying. A person may wear glasses or contact lenses.
When assisting a service user who wears glasses you need to ensure the glasses are clean and that they are the right prescription. You must make sure that the service user has their eyes tested every two years and regularly update their glasses and lenses. Letter boards can sometimes be used when the service user has lost the ability to speak but can point to letters or pictures on the board. When supporting a service user who uses a letter or picture board, you must allow plenty of time for the person to point to the letters or picture, do not rush them as this can lea to them not wanting to communicate. Some service users may use gestures may make it easier for people to understand the idea they are trying to get across.
Speaking slowly and clearing may be another way that you could communicate with a service user. When you haven’t got a specific communication need you can often forget that service users have. You may speak normally however; the service user you are supporting may have a learning disability or suffer with dementia and may need you to speak at a slower pace and more clearly. Another communication method is an electronic communication device. The person who uses this can type what they want to say and the machine can read it out for them. When supporting a service user who uses an electronic communication device you need to allow lots of time for the person to type what they want to say.
1.6The potential effects on a service user of having unmet communication needs are having a service user that is left feeling unhappy, uncared for, lonely and or depressed. If you do not have effective communication you would not be able to develop a positive relationship as the service user would not be able to make their thoughts, feelings known.
2.3I would gain access information and support about identifying and addressing specific communication needs firstly asking the service user there preferred form of communication, I would also read their personal care plan and talk to the family and friends about their specific communication needs. You could also ask for information from your line manager, the service user’s social worker, speech and language therapist, language interpreters, National Registers of Communication Professionals working with deaf and deaf blind people (NRCPD), Alzheimer’s Society and the Stroke Association.