Individuals who have communication problems need support to enable them to express themselves effectively. It is therefore important for the carer to be aware of the individual’s preferred method of communication and also to support the individual to use their preferred method.
Individuals have the right to communicate through their chosen method and their choice should be acknowledged and respected by supporting them. The individual’s rights are particularly important when using specific communication methods and language because its their major way of communicating their needs and preferences.
Communication is a basic human right. Without communication, the individual is unable to realize or exercise their rights. Under the Human Rights Act 1998 all individuals have the right to freedom of expression. If unable to communicate they would be denied these rights.
As a carer, it is your role and responsibility to support individuals to express themselves. The way in which you can do this is by assessing their needs, accessing information regarding their communication needs, providing the appropriate support, aids, or equipment, encouraging and motivating communication, working with others, and monitoring the effectiveness of that support.
Without the appropriate support, the individual would be unable to express their needs or how they are feeling which can lead to both emotional and physical difficulties. By fully supporting individuals with specific communication needs you are able to support their rights.
It is difficult and frustrating to communicate effectively when there is background noise, therefore arranging the environment to aid communication is a very important step to achieving effective communication with individuals. As a carer, you should arrange the individuals environment to facilitate effective communication and promote understanding. This can be done by ensuring privacy and going into a quiet room.
Some factors that can hinder good communication are:
Sensory disabilities Hearing loss Sight loss Learning disabilities Downs syndrome Autism Physical disabilities Cerebral palsy Mental health problems Dementia Other mental health problems
Behavior – If an individual is not supported to communicate effectively they can become increasingly withdrawn, depressed and isolated. This may affect their self-esteem and they may begin to develop feelings of frustration and uselessness. Their behavior may change as they vent their frustrations with acts of anger or even violence. Others may become confused, angry, and frustrated.
These effects include:
By observing the individual when they are communicating with you or others you will be able to identify the methods or aids which will best suit the individual. You may have noticed that the individual appears hard of hearing. You would then arrange a hearing test for the individual to establish if they have a problem and obtain equipment in the form of hearing aids if needed.
2. Explain how and when to access information and support identifying and addressing specific communication needs. During an initial assessment, an individuals ability and communication methods are established. This is done when an individual arrives in care. Everyone involved in the care of this service user is made aware of their needs and preferences regarding communication and any changes are recognised during reviews and shared with the team to ensure the individuals needs are met.
By observing an individuals communication cues (non-verbal signals used with or without speech to indicate the individuals thoughts and feelings) and exercising effective listening, you will be able to determine if the individual has understood the communication. By asking closed questions you will be able to confirm that they have understood what has been said. Also by asking them to repeat what you have discussed you will be able to confirm their understanding.
Use appropriate body language such as nodding, smiling, and leaning towards the individual.
As a carer, you should encourage and motivate individuals to communicate by providing the correct support, aids, and equipment. It is your responsibility to ensure that the individuals you provide care for and others involved in the individual’s lives are able to communicate effectively.
For communication to be effective everyone involved will need to have the same understanding of the communication method used. When supporting individuals with their communication you may need to support others with whom that individual wishes to communicate. This could include other carers, family, friends, peers or professionals.
For communication to be effective all the people involved will need to have the same understanding of the communication method used. When supporting individuals with their communication you may need to support others with whom that individual wishes to communicate. Support may involve the use of human aids, symbolic aids and technical aids.
You will need to explain the appropriate communication method and also show the others how the communication aids work. Wherever possible the support given should encourage the individual to do as much of the communication as independently as possible.
Aids and equipment are often provided through the social services department of your local council. The National Health Service (NHS) Hospital Eye Service can also prescribe a range of aids for people with partial sight. All blind and visually impaired people are entitled to a health and social care assessment from their local council.
This means someone from social services will assess their needs to make sure you get the equipment and services that are right for them. The local social services department can put them in touch with a rehabilitation worker, who can help individuals to communicate more easily
Support may be provided in various forms. Some users will require regular support and advice with regard to the use of the communication aid. Support can also come from within the users own family. It is important to identify the level of support each individual user has within their own environment. Family members can be of great help in supporting the user especially in the initial stages of using the communication aid.
In order to ensure that the user obtains the maximum benefit from the new technology, training must be provided. The most important training need for the user is competence in the use of the communication aid. This should consist of instruction in the operation of the particular communication equipment as well as maintenance and charging of the equipment if necessary. It may be important to provide training to all the carers, or it may be appropriate to select a few to be trained to deal with different aspects of the communication aid and its use in the environment.
Explain the importance of ensuring that communication equipment is correctly set up and working properly. As a carer, it is important that you ensure any equipment the individual uses to communicate with, is available, working, and in a safe condition. With regards health and safety, electrical communication equipment should be checked by a qualified and approved electrician to ensure it is fit for use. The equipment should have a label attached to it stating when the equipment was tested, who by, and when the next check is due.
The initial assessment will be carried out as stated earlier collating all risks and preferences of the individual. This information together with the communication method the individual prefers and any aids which they use to support their communication will then be written into the individuals care plan so that any changes to the base line can be monitored.
This record should include the nature of their communication differences, how they show themselves, and ways which you have found are effective in overcoming the differences.
The agreed methods of communication and support are only effective for as long as the individual’s communication skills remain the same. If their skills change then so do their support needs. As a carer, you will be expected to recognize and report on changes to the individuals communication skills.
It is important that everyone involved in the care of the individual works as part of a team to establish the best support for that person. When changes occur it is important that the correct help and support is obtained immediately so that the individual does not feel frustrated or isolated by being unable to communicate effectively. Significant changes in an individuals ability to communicate should be referred to the speech therapist or GP involved in the individuals care for professional investigation and monitoring.