Communication in care can be achieved by using a wide variety of methods. You can make yourself heard through speech, or silently by using gestures and facial expressions. You might handwrite letters or reports, or use technology to send emails and emojis. Furthermore, you might create social media posts or publish an article like this one. But communication is a two-way street!
If communication isn’t received or understood, it’s non-effective. Non-effective communication can be avoided by recognising the requirements of the people you’re addressing.
Tailor your style to match each need
For the most part, communicating with others is pretty straightforward. For example, most people don’t have much trouble exchanging money for groceries or asking a stranger for directions. However, in a care environment, your residents may be vulnerable and need extra support. So it’s beneficial to tailor your style to match each individual’s need.
Adapting your communication is one of the best ways to improve your service because what works for one person may not be right for someone else.
This means that a person-centred approach should be applied to every interaction—whether it’s speaking, listening, writing, drawing or gesturing. Effective communication in care can lead to better care. What’s more, it has many benefits for both the care provider and the individual.
Why is communication in care important?
Good communication allows us to make a connection with another person and understand their perspective. When this isn’t present in a care environment, we can only assume what other people need. Although we might have the necessary tools to help them, we could be using them inefficiently when all the pieces of the puzzle haven’t been put together.
Making assumptions based on previous personal experience or physical factors, such as ability or culture can be potentially harmful in practice when you don’t have all the information.
Social care workers use many different areas of communication each day, both verbal and non-verbal, depending on each individual’s needs. Having strong communication skills will assist you when developing relationships. Healthy relationships improve your service and help it to thrive. With some people, you may have a natural connection. However, others who find it a challenge to communicate will need extra support.
Developing healthy relationships in care
If you need to adapt your communication, match someone else’s style (or meet them at their level). It only takes a few moments after meeting someone to pick up on details that can help you. If someone is shy, struggles to speak, is uncooperative, or if they repeatedly ask you to explain what you mean, you’ll immediately recognise a need to apply a unique and effective communication style.
You can use trial and error to find a method that leads to positive results. This demonstrates that you’ve been able to adapt to different needs and is part of providing person-centred care—a valuable skill that inspectors look for.
Benefits of communication in care
It takes practice, but if someone in your workplace—either a resident or colleague—has different communication needs due to age, experience, confidence or a condition, finding an effective style that works for them will help them feel understood and know that they’re valued.
Good communication demonstrates respect and allows the most vulnerable to maintain their dignity and independence. Asking someone how they would prefer to be addressed is a great way to show interest and establish a friendly tone from the very start of a relationship.
Giving clear information is always appreciated no matter who you are speaking to. But for residents especially, understanding and feeling connected to the support and care you provide can help them to gain confidence to open up. This is essential for carrying out a care assessment, which at its foundation is a communication tool.
Having a resident who is apprehensive about discussing certain details may result in an ineffective care plan. This is a waste of precious time and resources.
Preferences and moods
Getting to know your residents better can support you in making informed decisions about their care. Understanding their likes, dislikes and personalities and how this all fits into the service you provide will help them feel more comfortable throughout the day and ultimately more satisfied with their lifestyle.
Recording their preferences and moods is essential to evidence what works well and what didn’t work, and so other care workers meeting a resident for the first time can start their relationships on the right path.
Documenting your residents’ preferences may include writing down how they like to be addressed. Alongside what interests they have, their routine and any notes detailing how a resident chooses to communicate.
Regulatory bodies will look for this type of information during an inspection to establish the level of care, response and effectiveness you provide. It’s important to always be respectful and aware of confidentiality; one slip up can set your progress back and damage trust.
Once you’ve established a strong relationship with a good level of communication, having transparency with your residents and colleagues can empower and motivate them. For example, when a resident has become more confident in their understanding of their care, you may decide to bring up an idea that previously wouldn’t have been well received, such as whether they feel comfortable to take on more responsibility by self-managing certain aspects of their daily routine.
Successful communication in care: want to learn more?
We hope you enjoyed reading the first three chapters of Introduction of Effective Communication in Care. This free ebook was created by CareDocs.
There’s a lot more to explore on the subject of communication in care, including the basics of effective communication.
Download your free copy here and enjoy different communication techniques and skills to develop. Learn about our top tips, some common communication mistakes and how technology can assist you in providing the best service for your residents.