There are many factors that may influence communication including environment, culture, abuse of power, drugs and alcohol, misunderstanding speech, body language, emotional difficulties, health issues and sensory factors. In health and social care settings there are strategies used to overcome these barriers. Some strategies may be more effective than others. It is important to know the strategies and be able to overcome these barriers in health and social care settings because there are many situations where communicating with a person may not be easy. Environmental- It can be hard to communicate if there is a problem with the area such as the light, space and sound. For example it could be hard to communicate with someone in a noisy room. Poor lighting could lead to not being able to see a person’s facial expressions clearly. Not having enough space could lead to being uncomfortable because there might not be enough personal space for the people talking. Awkward seating could be uncomfortable for example chairs being unsuitable.
It could be hard to talk to someone who is to close or at a distance. The room mat be to hot or cold with could affect peoples mood and ability to communicate. There could be distractions such as phones, another person being in the room or background noise. These barriers can be overcome by going to another room or seeing if you can change the amount of light, space and noise in background. Chairs may be able to be replaced with other chairs for more comfort. The temperature of a room may be adjustable by turning on heating or air conditioning. Distractions like phones and TV can be switched off/muted. If you are communicating with more than one person organise seating so that you can all see and hear each other. It may be easier to communicate with smaller groups of people at one time. The negatives of using these strategies are that it may not always be possible to make the required changes to the room for example problems with heating, overcrowded, no other rooms to use or any other restricted use to facilities.
It is positive to switch off phones or other technological equipment because it can’t distract for example start ringing in the middle of talking to someone. Using different seating could be positive because other chairs may be more comfortable and suitable for the person e.g. adjusted to be higher or lower so one person isn’t sat above or below the other people they are communicating with. Culture/religion- Having cultural differences can be difficult because different cultures have different meanings and beliefs. The same thing could mean two different things in two different cultures. Having a different culture/religion could cause two people or a group of people with different cultures/religions to clash because of having different beliefs for example believing in different gods. Situations like this lead to discrimination. Non verbal messages in communication may vary between different cultures. For example hand gestures could mean different things in different cultures.
In some cultures it is seen as rude to look someone in the eyes but in our own culture it’s seen as rude not to give eye contact whilst communicating with someone. When communicating with someone who has a different culture/religion to you should be careful about the non verbal messages you use. It might be helpful to research cultures and religions that you work with. You should always be respectful, polite and understanding about someone’s beliefs and don’t be judgemental. Don’t say things you think could be offensive to another person’s culture/religion. This may be difficult if you don’t know enough about the culture/religion because you could accidently say or do something that upsets another person when communicating. The person you’re communicating may think your being rude. People who are very opinionated and only think there culture/religion is right may find it hard to communicate to others of different culture/religion without being disrespectful. If you are regularly around people who have different cultures/religions to you it affective to research about them because you will have better understanding of the person and be able to communicate better.
If you are careful not to make assumptions about a person’s culture/religion it will help you to learn about the person and communicate more effectively. Abuse of power- In health and social care settings it is important to empower service users. This means to enable a person to make their own choices and control their own lifestyle. For example in a residential home giving the residents a choice of what they want to eat and enabling them to walk on their own and feed themselves. When people working in health and social care settings have restricted time and are busy it may lead to abuse of power because the service provider doesn’t have the time to be patient and wait for a service user to do something on their own. People working in health and social care should seek to empower people because abuse of power can lead to learned helplessness where a person gives up doing things for themselves, low self esteem as they feel worthless and they may fail to develop. In order to empower a service user care workers must understand and value the individuals own capabilities and encourage them to keep doing the things they are capable of.
Care workers must be caring to all service users and treat them with equality. They must be patient and kind to service users when they are making decisions and doing things. They must not rush them as this could upset a service user. Drugs and alcohol- Drugs and alcohol affect how someone communicates because when under the influence of drugs and alcohol your brain works slower and you have less control of yourself. Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol affects how your brain and nervous system works, your reaction time, makes you confused, affects how you send verbal and non verbal messages and receive information. Drug and alcohol abuse then creates a barrier to communication because it may be hard for a person to understand another person abusing drugs and alcohol and it may be harder for a person abusing drugs and alcohol to understand clearly and know their surroundings.
Being under the influence of drugs and alcohol can affect your emotions making you angry, frustrated, upset or anxious. People communicating with people under the influence drugs and alcohol then also have to deal with the emotions that they have. Misunderstanding speech- It is easy to misunderstand what someone is saying when they are talking ‘jargon’ or ‘slang’. You can use strategies such as paraphrasing and asking questions to check you heard something right or trying to summarise what is being said. Paraphrasing is when you repeat something back to someone. You could use closed, open and probing questions. Closed questions are used for yes or no answers and when little information is needed. Open questions are used for more complex questions with longer answers. Probing is used to ask for more detail after using an open question. It is important to know what types of questions are suitable for different situations because using the wrong type of question could lead to being misunderstood or coming across as pushy and insensitive. Closed questions receive less information and they may not be suitable for keeping a conversation ongoing.
People with communication problems like the elderly with dementia may find open questions hard to understand. When using probing in personal conversations you may find that the person you are communicating with may get agitated as they don’t want to give any more information. Body language- Posture and body language include eye contact, sitting up straight, the way you move, facial expressions, gestures and touch. Bad posture and body language could give wrong impressions and create bad communication between two or more people. For example if you are not sat straight you could make the other person think you’re not interested in the conversation. Not looking at the person talking to you and not giving eye contact could look rude. When communicating with people your facial expressions play a key part as your facial expressions show how you feel, your reactions to receiving information and can sometimes show what you think about something.
Gestures are mostly hand gestures such as thumbs up, thumbs down, stop gesture, hello and goodbye wave e.t.c. Emotional difficulties- Whether a person is feeling upset, distressed or angry they could find it hard to communicate and understand what someone is trying to say leading to confusion and misunderstanding. A person communicating with an emotional person should stay calm and be sympathetic. This can ease the person and make them feel more comfortable. You could use a suitable amount of touch and gesture to be sympathetic. Health issues- When someone is feeling ill they may find it hard to communicate with others. Long term illnesses such as physical disability and Parkinson’s affect how capable someone is of communicating. When talking to someone with an illness or disability it is important to be aware of it and be supportive. You should use encouragement to reassure people with illnesses that they can cope. The person could be in pain and distressed so it is vital to be patient and calm.
Be understanding and kind when talking to a person with a health issue. These strategies are affective because people with an illness will find it comforting to be spoken to with respect and kindness. These strategies may not be affective when a person is in pain because the person will be a lot harder to comfort and communicate with because they may be angry and frustrated from the pain. In health and social care you may have to communicate with someone who has sensory impairment including deaf, blind and mute people. People with sensory impairment will have alternative forms of communication. Deaf people use sign language and makaton. Makaton is a simpler version of sign language and it is done with hand gestures and pictures. Blind people use braille.
Braille is a system of raised marks that can be felt by a blind person to provide written communication. It is seen on public transport, public services and public places like schools and colleges. Alternative forms of communication are positive for people with sensory impairment because they are enabled to communicate with others. The alternative forms of communication give people with sensory impairment a better quality of life and more opportunities; however these alternative forms of communication may be difficult for people to learn. Not many people who don’t have sensory impairment learn any of these alternative forms of communication.