Barriers to communication

There are many factors which may affect an individual’s ability to effectively communicate. These factors are known as communication barriers, as they prevent or interfere with the person’s ability to send, receive, and/or understand a message For example visual and/or hearing impairments can act as barriers to effective communication.

These barriers mean that the person has difficulty is seeing written communication, such as a letter or email, and/or hearing spoken word conversations, for example between a care worker and a patient in a day care centre when the two are discussing future care plans, leading to possible misunderstandings, or embarrassment to the person with the hearing/visual impairment and they cannot fully understand the care worker if the care worker is not aware of, or not seeing to, the persons additional needs.

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These needs can be seen to by speaking clearly and slowly, and/or repeating, rephrasing what has been said, to help people understand what is being said to them. Time should be given to the message receiver; so that they can digest the information they have received and think about how they want to respond. Electronic devices can also be used, such as text phones, telephone amplifiers and hearing loops, and it is important to give the individuals using the devices enough time to use it whilst communicating.

An induction loop system helps deaf people hear sounds more clearly by reducing or cutting out background noise. http://www. digitalhearingcare. org. uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Hearing-Loop. jpg Conditions such as cerebal palsy, Down’s syndrome, and autism tend to limit a person’s ability to interpret other people’s non-verbal communication, such as body language, and their ability to communicate verbally. In a care setting these needs should be attended to, so that effective communication can be achieved between the care worker and the individual with the condition.

For example if someone with autism is having trouble finding the right words to explain how they are feeling to a counsellor, the counsellor could perhaps suggest other ways to express themselves, such as through drawing etc. A big issue in Britain, being a very culturally diverse country is the foreign language barriers between people. Even though in Britain, the official language is English, to many residents of Britain, English is only a second or third language to them, or possibly not spoken/understood at all.

This can be overcome in health and social care settings in many ways, depending on the situation. For example in a doctors surgery the information leaflets given to patients could be in more than one language, or in care homes translators could be employed so that the care workers can communicate effectively with the patients easily, through the patients preferred language and know that both parties are being understood by one another.

Different people from different cultural backgrounds also interpret non-verbal communication differently (see cultural differences in communication) so care workers who work with people of these different background should be trained and have basic knowledge of the cultures they work with, so as not to offend patients, or give off the wrong impressions, as one thing that may be seen in British culture as friendly, may be seen as extremely rude and offensive in another. A dialect is the language used in a specific area or culture.

This can create communication barriers if someone not originally from a certain area is trying to communicate with someone in that area, or vice versa. For example people from Thanet may use certain words that are local and specific to Thanet. An elderly person who is not from Thanet, but just recently moved into a care home in Thanet may encounter communication barriers if the staff members in the care home try to speak to them using ‘Thanet-specific’ words, as they will not understand the local dialect.

Jargon is technical language that is understood by people in a specific area of work or industry. Health and social care workers often use jargon to quickly communicate with each other, for example a doctor communicating with a chemist about what drugs and dosage to prescribe an individual. These jargon terms used will only make sense to those with the knowledge of how to use and understand them.

So if the drugs and dosage are not explained to the patient in a more general way that they will understand, not using slang or jargon that is industry-specific, then the patient may be very confused and end up taking the wrong dosage or taking the drugs at the wrong time of day. Environmental problems can be large communication barriers. For example an environment that is noisy will reduce an individual’s ability to listen and communicate.

An environment that is poorly lit can affect someone’s ability to read non-verbal communication signs, like body language, or can reduce a hearing-impaired person’s ability to lip-read. Such environmental problems can be overcome by making changes to the physics environment. For example moving into a room with brighter lighting so that someone with hearing impairments can lip read more easily (this is improved even more if the care worker is facing the light so that their face and mouth is more clear and visible. , or moving into a quieter room, so that the background noise is reduced.