Jul 15, 2019 in Analysis
Communicating in Health and Social Care


Good communication in health and social care is a paramount aspect. Healthcare is an area which operates with a group of the people in the society, who grapple with a plethora of physical, mental and emotional problems. Thus, the challenges may adversely affect their capacity to communicate effectively. The situation demands that the attending staff members adopt appropriate methods of communication as well as practising restraint when handling them due to their conditions. Many health and social care centres usually have a number of shortcomings emanating from the communication breakdown, which are repugnant to the health care users. Therefore, the lives of users become unbearable in some way. Moreover, it makes the job of social workers futile if the care users do not benefit from the premises. In seeking a lasting solution to poor communication in social and health care, the current report outlines an induction packet report for the new care workers as directed by my line manager of Brighton Village Home. The paper explains the importance of having good communication skills in health and social care with emphasis on the behavioural theory of communication. In addition, the report demonstrates how I used good communication skills within my health and social care setting with the different service users. Also, it reviews the methods of solving issues related to unprofessional communication between individuals in health care institutions. Finally, the report analyses the application of strategies that provide special health and social care for complex health needs.   

Importance of Good Communication Skills in Health and Social Care

Good communication skills are significant for a social worker since the job entails interacting with service users on a one-on-one basis. In Brighton Village Home, the main form of communication that is relied on is informal, verbal and non-verbal types. English language has been the main medium, through which communication has been taking place, considering the fact that majority of the service users are natives of Britain. However, communication has been inconvenienced to a large degree because most of the social workers speak English as their second language. Thus, they have a number of issues with grammar and language structure in general. 


My induction report outlines the significance of good communication skills in a dual language institution as entrenched in the ideologies contained in the behavioural theory of communication. The theory focuses on the observable behaviour of the involved parties in communication. The approach is useful and relevant in the Brighton Village Home scenario basing on the aforementioned shortcoming. The approached adopted in the theory is natural and can be interpreted by both the social workers and service users. The results are timely because body language is used in most cases; and the theory assesses outward expressions. Since it does not rely on language skill, it can suit all ages and abilities. Through the application of the behavioural theory, many service users’ conduct can be shaped gradually as they will develop new behaviours based on the new mode of communication. One crucial benefit of the approach is that there is no labelling of people as abnormal or use of utterances that can irritate.   


I strongly recommend the adoption of the behavioural mode of communication in our health and social care centre as many of our staff continue learning and perfecting their language skills. Social workers will manage to understand the feelings of the service users and address their concerns appropriately. Also good communication skills will enable them to bond with the patients and use their potential in career through proper service. The approach shall also be suitable especially for the communication with the people who have hearing and visual impairment. Social workers will need to express themselves through body language to pass information to the deaf. Moreover, they will be able to help read the instructions in braille texts to the blind.  

My Experience

As an experienced social worker, I am particular about the relevant skills that I use in communicating with my esteemed clients. For the time I have worked in the healthcare field, I learnt to be an active listener in my communication. The approach helped me to attend to the relevant information that the client wants to share with me. When users learn that they are being listened to, they automatically rest and share. Moreover, their minds can relax and they communicate more openly. Thus, crucial factor for the social care setting is remembering that listening is an important part of communication. 


Similarly, I always used to clarify the message that I wanted to send to client. Sometimes, communication is hampered by people’s shoddiness in giving detailed information. Therefore, the individuals can give insufficient data to the recipient. Eventually the communication gaps can lead to failures in activities. Our new social workers ought to know that the centre deals basically with people who are incapacitated either by old age or ailments. The health conditions impair communication ability; and therefore, the workers should try as much as possible to be clear. Moreover, clarity eliminates ambiguity and vagueness in the information interpretation, which improves the coding and decoding process.   


Among my strength in communication with the service users is the most significant strategy to maintain eye contact with my recipients of information. Whenever I looked at their faces, they paid more attention to what I was saying to them or asking; and the approach enhanced understanding. Moreover, the service users seemed to have more confidence to disclose their concerns to me whenever they realized that I paid much attention to what they were saying. In fact, they confirmed that when I my eye kept shifting, the impression of being listened to disappeared. In line with the eye contact, a feeling of empathy to them contributed to building trust and open channels of communication. Therefore, the clients had assurance that they were definitely being cared for and it relieved their worries tremendously. 


Despite the aforementioned approaches, I knew how to vary my tone and pace to deliver the content of the speech. Tonal variation elucidates the mood, while the pace brings out the aspect of emphasis of the points being articulated. Moreover, the goal of a social worker is to enhance and sustain attention of the listeners. Thus, new social workers should speak to service users in a plain language; avoid complicated structures and shying away from the customers. On the other hand, speaking excessively is not advices, because people will find them boring and their information may not be adhered to. Another important factor is maintaining appropriate proximity with the listeners. 


Finally, I used various facial expressions to communicate my message better to the service users. I added the effects of the face such as winking to denote approval, smiling to express one’s happiness and frowning to express gloom of displeasure. The strategy worked well especially with young children in the health and social care setting. As they say that the face is like the work of art, it communicates different information depending on the manner, in which it is manipulated. Therefore, the new social workers should also incorporate non-verbal strategies in their skills of communication; and they will no doubt find their work interesting and fruitful. 

Methods of Dealing with Inappropriate Interpersonal Communication

In order to curb the problem of inappropriate interpersonal communication between individuals in the health and social care, I shall encourage the new social workers to frequently use interpreters from their native languages to English and vice versa. Moreover, they should use the sign language experts, especially when communicating with their deaf patients and individuals who need special attention.


Secondly, I suggest that all new social workers, especially ones who speak English as a second language, should be provided with orientation. They should learn the loops to help them communicate directly with clients without a translator. The management should ensure that new workers adapt quickly to the personas needs of clients. 


Thirdly, the workers should ensure that the rooms of individual service users are well lit to facilitate communication. The condition is necessary in the rooms of the partially blind occupants for them to have a clear vision during communication and see non-verbal signs. It also applies to the sick patients as well as the aged. A clear view of the communicator will help the recipients to interpret the information easily, especially when it is non-verbal. 


Finally, during the era of information communications technology (ICT), social workers can use social media and other platforms to communicate with their services users. The positive impact of the method is that information reaches all patients at once without alterations. Moreover, it does not cause fatigue of the personnel. Furthermore, it can be stored for future references and can be accessed later, especially if it was delivered when some service users were asleep or undergoing treatment.

Strategies To Support Users of Health and Social Care Services

Service users who have impairment of hearing, vision or mental functioning can sometimes find it difficult to understand the information being communicated by the social workers. Therefore, they require appropriate strategies that would suit both patient and personnel situation, so that they can also be at par with their colleagues. Workers can employ such strategies as passing across the information to the colleagues, when they are at their greatest level of alertness. People with health needs can complain about different issues. The situation is inhibitive to communication because patients tend to listen more to their internal discomfort than what is externally generated. Social workers ought to be helping them to alleviate their pain and worries before they can issue instructions. The internal to external approach is the only way that would ensure that patients are alert to engage into a conversation or any other mode of communication.  


Another approach to communication barriers is to accord to clients sufficient time for conversation. It is also advisable to take frequent breaks to permit regrouping in case listeners become confused in the process of communication. Normally, people in social and health care setting tend to be troubled by a number of issues related to their physical, emotional, mental and social health. In the process of interaction, some may lose track on the way. Hence, social workers need to understand their feelings and operate with patience they deserve in case patients get confused. They should stop the tendency of harassing their clients, since that even confuses them more. 


Moreover, the personnel should use simple language to be understood clearly by the service users without being bothered to seek clarification all the time. Avoiding the use of jargon, slang or acronyms in the communication both on the side of workers and patients is a requirement. In fact, slang may not be easily interpreted by the service users. They should be aware that most of the service users are aged people who may not be conversant with the upcoming trends in the language, which would have resulted in jargon or slang. Furthermore, the informal types of language are not officially acceptable in the formal places. Thus, in the place of work, the employees should consider the work ethics and conform to the standard mode of communication. 


Finally, social workers need to keep the instructions clear and avail simple choices to their service users. Complicated and ambiguous instructions can result in massive negative consequences, since the patients may end up accomplishing a risky or dangerous action, which can cause harm to themselves or others. For example, in case the services user is given erroneous instructions about swallowing their medicine, they overdose with drugs, which will be detrimental to their health and life. The social and health care workers should also be devising appropriate means of checking whether the service users would have understood the pieces of given advice or not. They can confirm the understanding by demonstrating patience in listening without interpreting or rushing the user into a response. They ought to make sure that the clients respond appropriately to their instructions and accomplish actions in the correct order.      


The new social workers should take the current induction report with intention of learning because it will be critical in their service delivery to the end users. They should also be flexible in application of the guidelines as they will be cooperating with users of different needs and with issues of various magnitudes. Understanding the degree of the client’s need shall be crucial goal for the social and health care workers because it will determine the mode of communication to be adopted. If all the aforementioned ideas are implemented, the health and social care centres shall have minimal challenges. Statistics reveal that most of the challenges that the organisations grapple with emanate from communication problems due to inadequate skills. Interaction between people can never be complete unless the used language is articulated appropriately. Social workers should also strive to learn both spoken and written English and be at par with their clients in proficiency. The language plays a significant role of enabling social and health care workers to be acquainted with the culture of the people they are serving. Unless they have an understanding of the client’s culture, the chances of being misunderstood shall still remain high. Furthermore, the lack of understanding of other people’s languages usually triggers feeling of prejudice and insecurity when people of varied backgrounds meet. Perhaps the world could be a better place if people tried to learn the languages and discovered the cultures and traditions. For instance, social workers are the most highly relied on professionals in case a person is vulnerable. In fact, they have the capacity to help people with health and physical challenges to cope with their conditions. They are required to possess knowledge about the service users, show interest in helping them, and make an effort to overcome communication challenges. Social workers have to make an effort to eliminate the communication shortcoming so as to make their work more fruitful. 



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