Communication needs

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2 March 2016

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Explain the importance of meeting an individual’s communication needs.

People communicate because they need to let others know what they want and feel, as well as to find things out and get answers to their question and to pass on information and give direction.

Communication is a basic human right. Without communication the individual is unable to realise or exercise their rights. Under the human rights act 1998 all individuals have the right to freedom of expression.

Without identifying and supporting the individuals communication needs many may be denied their rights. The right of and individual is also up held in (GSCC) General Social Care Council.

In order to effectively support an individual with his or her communication we must have a thorough understanding of their needs. All individuals have a right to communication and we are governed by standards, codes of practice, guidelines, morals and law to ensure those communication needs are met.

Explain how own role and practice can impact on communication with an individual who has specific communication needs.


It is true that a person’s own beliefs and experiences could affect working practice or affect my role as a healthcare worker. However, as a professional health care worker, it is part of my responsibilities to treat all service users equally and never allow my personal beliefs affect my role.

Imposing my own beliefs and experiences is not acceptable in the healthcare practice and would be against the standard codes of practice, and organisational policies. Example giving preferential treatment to service user because I like them more than others, treating a client differently because we have the same or different religion, different values as regards personal hygiene, different sexual orientation.

Furthermore, treating a service user badly because in the past I have had a bad experience with perhaps people of such colour, race or people of his/her personalities is against the practice.

The Human Rights Act 1998, The Race Relations, Act 1976 amended 2000, The Sex Discrimination Act 1975. Equal Opportunities Act 2004 and the Equality Act of 2010 are all legislations that relate to equality and diversity in my own practice. These acts are about meeting and respecting the individual needs. As a healthcare worker it is my responsibly to strictly adhere and follow these guidelines.

This ensure that all clients are treated equally irrespective of their colour, age, disability, gender, religion and belief and sexual orientation . It is my duties to offer a non judgemental, non bias service because of individual client beliefs.

Analyse features of the environment that may help or hinder communication.


Noise levels of the environment. Are they conducive to communication if an individual is hard of hearing therefore it is best to reduce the noise level or move to a quieter area to improved communication.

Large groups could have a negative effective on communication if everyone is engage in a lively discussion, it best to move to a smaller group.

Good/poor lighting someone with poor vision may find it difficult to see especially if they have hearing problem and relied on reading your lips as opposed to good lighting which would alleviate any anxieties and stress and reduced miscommunication as a result of having good lighting.

Privacy or lack of it, offering a individual a private environment to have a conversation with someone on a one to one basic would allowed the individual to set across from you face to face, where the level of communication can be calm, timely and clear have opportunities to clarify things they are not sure about and enable clarity. focusing on the individual,space and positioning when communicating, body language and eye contact when communicating, giving individuals sufficient time to communicate, using the individual’s preferred means of communication and language, checking that you and the individuals understand the communication when communicating.

No disruption/disruption, distraction example, TV off or on and even temperature is it just right or too hot/cold etc. as all these elements can have a negative or positive impact on communication.

Physical- refers to the environment surrounding the participants in the communication process; for example: (good) good ventilation, chairs and other materials are properly arrange, temperature is set just right, the place or venue is presentable..etc. (bad) a very noisy place, air pollution, the place is very dirty and the materials for the event is not properly arrange, poor ventilation.


Analyze reasons why an individual may use a form of communication that is not based on a formal language system.


There are lots of different ways to communicate. We use all of our five senses to communicate and receive information: Visual-seeing, Auditory -hearing, Olfactory – smelling, Kin- aesthetic -feeling, Gustatory -tasting.

Could be due to hearing difficulties, in which case they will use sign language, another could be because of learning problems, and these people use a form of body language , some might use their eyes, whilst others communicate by making facial expressions or sounds or even pointing. A further reason could be due to a severe medical condition, and in some of these cases the individual can learn to use electronic equipment to communicate

It is important to learn about communication forms. Once we recognize the communication we can respond to it and begin shaping it into a more formal or easier to understand form of communication.

Identify a range of communication methods and aids to support individuals to communicate.

There are three main forms of communication, verbal, non-verbal and the written word.

Verbal communication
Verbal communication uses words to present ideas, thoughts and feelings. Good verbal communication is the ability to both explain and present your ideas clearly through the spoken word, and to listen carefully to other people. This will involve using a variety of approaches and styles appropriate to the Individual you are addressing.

Non-verbal communication
This refers to the messages we send out to express ideas and opinions without talking. This might be through the use of body language, facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, touch or contact, signs, symbols, pictures, objects and other visual aids. It is very important to be able to recognise what a person’s body language is saying, especially when as a health or social care worker you are dealing with someone who is in pain, worried or upset. You must also be able to understand the messages you send with your own body when working with other people.

Body language –
The way we sit or stand, which is called posture, can send messages. Slouching on a chair can show a lack of interest in what is going on and folded arms can suggest that you are feeling negative or defensive about a person or situation. Even the way we move can give out messages, e.g. shaking your head while someone else is talking might indicate that you disagree with them or waving your arms around can indicate you are excited.

Facial expression –
We can often tell what someone is feeling by their eyes. Our eyes become wider when we are excited or happy, attracted to, or interested in someone. A smile shows we are happy and a frown shows we are annoyed.

Touch or contact –
Touching another person can send messages of care, affection, power or sexual interest. It is important to think about the setting you are in and what you are trying to convey before touching a person in a health and social care environment. An arm around a child who is upset about something in hospital or a nursery can go a long way to making them feel better but a teenager might feel intimidated by such contact from an older person.

Signs, symbols and pictures –
There are certain common signs or gestures that most people automatically recognise. For example, a wave of the
hand can mean hello or goodbye and a thumbs up can mean that all is well. Pictures of all forms and objects also communicate messages; an X-ray and a model of a knee joint can more easily communicate to someone needing a knee replacement exactly what is involved.

Written communication
This is central to the work of any person providing a service in a health and social care environment when keeping records and in writing reports. Different types of communication need different styles of writing but all require literacy skills. A more formal style of writing is needed when recording information about a client.

Technological aids
Technology is moving so quickly now that we have many electronic aids to help us communicate. For example, mobile phones can be used to make calls but we can also use them to send text messages and emails; and we have computers on which we can record, store and communicate information very quickly and efficiently over long distances. Some aids can turn small movements into written word and then into speech, such as the voice box most famously used by the scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking.

mobile phones: these are generally affordable and available to the population at large, making them more accessible than computers and far more cost-effective. They have many uses in health and social care. For example, they enable emergency response teams to coordinate their efforts, allow a surgical team to contact someone awaiting an organ transplant, gather and send information etc. They are especially important in health and social care in developing countries, where people may live several days’ walk from the nearest doctor.

telephone amplifier: these are devices that amplify, or make louder, the ring tone of a phone so that people who are hard of hearing and maybe use a hearing aid can hear the phone more clearly. They also amplify the volume of the person speaking on the other end by up to 100%. Other devices on telephones include flashing lights so someone who is hard of hearing can see that the phone is ringing.

hearing loops – a hearing loop system helps deaf people who use a hearing aid

These means of communication are used for transferring information from one entity to the other, and always involve a sender and receiver. The cycle of communication is said to be complete only when the receiver has understood the sender’s message and intent.

Describe the potential effects on an individual of having unmet communication needs.


Having difficulties expressing on self can lead to both physical and emotional problems.

Individuals who experience a gradual loss of effective communication may become increasingly withdrawn, depressed or isolated. These emotions reduce the individual’s self-esteem as they start to develop feeling of frustration and uselessness. The individual’s behaviour may change as they vent their frustrations with acts of anger or even violence.

An individual, who is born deft or lose their hearing while they are young, may well have built their own society in the Deft Community based on communication through sign language. But someone who has lived in the hearing community for most of their life, then loses their hearing in later life, may feel they have no place where they can fit in.

some individuals who have not received the required support to communicate effectively may become indifferent to others. They may begin to feel that there is no point in trying to express themselves, their needs or their views, when no one appears to be listening or attempting to understand them.

Unsupported communication needs can result in the individual being denied their rights. As a society, if we deny an individual their rights in life we are in effect abusing that individual.

Contribute to identifying the communication methods or aids that will best suit individual.


At my day centre I contribute to aiding the communication needs of my service users by:

Cultural needs:
dietary needs of a number of service users are varied so it is essential that those who have special dietary needs are meet to help maintained and help them stay healthy example. Diabetic not given too much sugar or sweet, or those with hypertension watch the amount of salt intake in their diet identified and cultural norms of using the left hand is frown up on.

Religious needs:
Ensures those who practice their faith are given the opportunity to engage in such practice on a weekly basic. By providing this service to them.

One page profile:
Indicate the individual like and preferences and what is important to the individual and how best to meet their needs.

Body language:
Through developing a working relationship with an individual I am able to understand a number of cues with indicate what or how they are feeling through, facial expression, gestures that indicate that the individual is upset annoyed or confused example when an individual look at family photos they want to talk or visit their love ones.

Key working: thought working with the individual and family to establish person centre approaches. Which entails their hope dreams and aspiration.

Language barrier: ensuring the individual have someone to help will their language needs if their first language is not English.

Technical aids:
Ensuring individual have the access to hearing aid, optician to provide them with aiding with visual needs to improved their communication needs. Talking books,and large printed and Bridle books and other technical aids to help with their communication needs through partnership work with deft blind society who provide magazine to informed and update service users and their family on the latest aids that would best suit their needs.

Monthly magazine leaflet:
Informing and updating service users on all the activities that has taken place and will be happening at the centre. By taking photos of all the various events we are enabling service user are seeing hearing and reading all that is taking place in the day centre. Example who celebrated their birth day, what events will be happing inside and outside of the centre and pictures of who attended.

Notice board:
Service user are able to see and read about events and obtained information that is of interest to them or others they can shared with.

Informing service users:
Provide service users with Information and Advice as to where and how to obtain information on other services and community resources they can get access to.
Staff meeting:
Report and shared concerned information that has been disclosed or observation about service user that will benefit or aid their communication needs

Explain how and when to access information and support about identifying and addressing specific communication needs.


1.1What is communication?
Communication is the giving and receiving of information. It is the foundation of what we do in everyday life. What we say, how we say it and what we do communicates a multitude of messages that are given and received consciously and subconsciously by using different communication methods. People communicate with you because they have something they want you to know or something they want you to tell them. We communicate to share information and ideas. The key point to remember is that everyone is different. We all think differently and communicate in different ways. The people you are supporting will communicate because they are motivated by what they need

2.2 Understand a range of communication methods and styles that could help meet an individual’s communication needs, wishes and preferences There are lots of different Ways to communicate. We use all of our five senses to communicate and receive information:  Visual – seeing

Auditory – hearing

Olfactory – smelling
Kinaesthetic – feeling
Gustatory – tasting

Verbal communication

Vocabulary, words and different languages
Tone of voice
Pitch (for example, high or low

Non-verbal communication

Eye contact

Signs, symbols or pictures


Using objects


Physical gestures

Body language and emotions

Lip reading

Recognise barriers to effective communication

Here are some of the different barriers to consider:
Sensory impairment (for example, deafness, blindness or both)
Culture (for example, speaking different languages or poor English)
Religion (for example, men not permitted to support females with personal care)
Health issues (for example, mental ill health like Dementia)
Background noise (for example, radio, television, other people, machines)
Emotions (for example, difficulty in being able to listen to others)
Stress (for example, failing to recognise what is happening)
Strong accents (for example, from a different part of England that you find difficult to understand)
Specialist communication techniques (for example, sign language is used)
Prejudice (for example, allowing your beliefs to pre judge a situation)

Be aware of ways to reduce barriers to effective communication

Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is an invisible disability, so it can become a big communication barrier. Hearing impaired people have to concentrate very hard to pick up information in stages and written information. Aids that can help these people are hearing aids, sign language, lip reading, loop systems, interpreters. It is important to limit background noise to avoid distraction. You should always make sure they can see you clearly and particularly your face as they may be able to lip read. They may also use sign language which you may need to consider learning if you will be working together regularly.

Loss of Sight

This can make a person extremely disorientated if they are in a strange place or they lose their glasses. When supporting a person who is blind or has limited visibility, verbal communication increases in importance. Always ensure the individual can hear you clearly. It may be appropriate to use touch to reassure them of your presence. You might need to explain things in more detail because they are unable to see your expressions and body LANGUAGE

Language Barriers and Accents
It can be difficult to communicate with a person who does not speak English, you may need to use picture boards, actions or an interpreter so you can communicate appropriately. Dementia and Confusion

When supporting someone with Dementia be aware that even basic forms of communication may be difficult for them to understand and interpret. Use short sentences. Use names rather than he or she. Avoid open ended questions. Use closed questions, for example, rather than say “what would you like?” say “would you like this or that?”

These individuals have usually had a stroke and may get very frustrated when trying to communicate. A speech therapist may be involved with their support and may be able to suggest ways of making things easier. Physical Disabilities

Individuals may have had accidents which have changed their abilities. Some people will have previously had no disabilities and others will have always had disabilities. Some people with physical disabilities may have difficulty speaking, for example, people who may have had strokes or conditions like cerebral palsy. Others with physical disabilities may be able to communicate perfectly well in speech. You should never make judgements about individual’s capabilities in any way and don’t forget everyone is different.

Cultural Differences

Commonly used gestures can sometimes have different meanings in other cultures. Familiarise yourself with the cultures of those you are caring for so you are able to treat them with respect. In some cultures, men and women are not allowed to speak to each other if they are not known to each other and this could present difficulties when trying to provide care and support. A female may not want a male carer and a male may not want a female carer

The Environment
Consider the type of environment in which you are working. Is there lots of noise around you. Can the noise be reduced or removed altogether. Are other people making too much noise and preventing you from communicating with an individual. In an individual’s home, you may find pets or other distractions like the television being on too loud. You should also make sure that people who have particular aids to help them communicate are using these, for example hearing aids and glasses. It can often be difficult to concentrate on a conversation if the individual needs to go to the toilet. Always check the individual is comfortable.

Confidence / Self Esteem

If an individual lacks confidence and / or self esteem, they may find it difficult to express themselves. Lots of patience and encouragement is needed as well as regular praise to increase their confidence and the way they feel about themselves


Be aware of sources of information and support or services to enable more effective communication There will be lots of different types of support and services that can help you and the individuals you support to improve your communication skills. Some of these services are:  Translators

Interpreters, sign language and lip speakers
Speech and language specialists
Advocacy services

Cite this page

Communication needs. (2 March 2016). Retrieved from

"Communication needs" StudyScroll, 2 March 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Communication needs [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4 December, 2023]

"Communication needs" StudyScroll, Mar 2, 2016. Accessed Dec 4, 2023.

"Communication needs" StudyScroll, Mar 2, 2016.

"Communication needs" StudyScroll, 2-Mar-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

StudyScroll. (2016). Communication needs. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 4-Dec-2023]

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