Communication in health and social care
It’s not all about the words
One of the many definitions of the word communication is “the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings”. We do this mostly in the form of talking – explaining and describing our thoughts so that others can understand us. But talking isn’t the only way we communicate. The clothes we wear, our hand gestures, facial expressions, even the tone of voice we use can say more than our spoken words.
Communication with a person you are caring for is about developing a relationship. A better relationship allows you to provide better care. Remember, you are an integral part of their life – they rely on you – so developing the way you talk and act around them is as important as any medication or assistance you give.
Part of that relationship is also learning how to listen. People may use words that don’t accurately describe what they actually mean. You must be able to interpret the unspoken parts that may actually hold their real feelings. You may also be working alongside family members or other health professionals so listening to and understanding them is equally important.
Think about how fast you talk and your choice of words and phrases. You may need to adapt your preferred words to simpler ones, talk more slowly, enunciating each word carefully. Some people are very sensitive to noise and may react negatively if you are too sharp or loud, or indeed if the environment around them is too loud. This will impact on how they respond to your requests, causing frustration for both. If the environment is too noisy or busy with plenty of distractions, you may need to move to a quieter area.
Effective communication in a care environment is crucial to making sure you are providing the best help you can. You may be dealing with people who have limited verbal communication abilities, or even those who cannot speak verbally at all. Interpreting their wishes and needs becomes more challenging, requiring more patience and understanding.
Above all, the way you communicate should always be respectful, polite, positive and honest. That’s the way we should behave with whoever we’re talking to!
Our Communication courses can help you learn how to develop this important skill. Why not call Becky on 01462 222300 for a chat and to set up a course for you and your staff.