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Barriers to Communication

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P3- Explain factors that may influence communication skills and interpersonal interactions in health and social care environments.
P4- Explain strategies used in health and social care environments to overcome barriers to effective communication and interpersonal interactions.
M2- Review strategies used in health and social care environments to overcome barriers to effective communication and interpersonal interactions.
D1- Evaluate strategies used in health and social care environments to overcome barriers to effective communication and interpersonal interactions.
In this essay I am going to talk about what barriers are and how they can affect an individual’s communication skills. A barrier is something that prevents you from achieving your goals. I am going to explain 4 different communication barriers including; deafness/noise levels, autism, blindness and depression, I will explain what each barrier is and evaluate the positives and negatives of each strategy to overcome the barrier.
The first barrier I am going to explain is deafness. Deafness is when an individual is unable to hear anything that is going on in their surroundings, this can be caused by all different things for example injuries to the head, loud noises and loud music through headphones or out loud. To overcome this barrier, an individual should have a communication passport. A communication passport is a way of understanding what difficulties another individual has and how they can be supported, information that can be found in a communication passport are; information about the individual, what you need to know about the individual, special people that they have in their lives, things that the individual likes to talk about, and what to do and what not to do when communication with them. A positive of a communication passport is that this is a way for a vulnerable person to be supported with their communication difficulties across transitions and drawing together complex information. They also describe the person’s most effective way of communication and explain to someone else how to support the individual. A negative of a communication passport is that it takes a while for the individual to complete it, so it is time consuming and they are also easy to lose. Also another way of supporting an individual who is deaf is to use picture cards with them. A picture card is an illustrated card used in games or as a teaching aid; in this case it is being used as a teaching aid. Things found on picture cards are things like; toilet, food, drinks etc. A positive of picture cards is this is a way of speeding up the communication by using all different pictures like; food and toilet, it is thought to be easy for any individual to learn the picture exchange communication method. Another positive is; frustration over not being able to communicate with others is reduced for the individual. A negative of the picture cards could be; if the deaf individual wanted to have a conversation with a blind individual they would not be able to do so and maybe someone in their family or someone they are close to could be blind and they wouldn’t be able to communicate at all. Another negative is the individual might not be able to tell what certain pictures on the cards are and this will make it hard for them. Another way of overcoming this barrier of being deaf is using a hearing aid, a positive of a hearing aid is that it helps the individual to hear things better around them; the individual is able to higher the volume coming out of the hearing aid when they cannot hear properly and they are able to lower the volume when the atmosphere is getting too loud. A negative of a hearing aid is that the individual who is wearing it may feel uncomfortable or doesn’t like how it looks on them; this could lower their confidence, or could lead to being bullied. Another barrier that links with being deaf could be noise levels which can affect partially deaf people, if the noise levels in a room were too loud, this could be too tough on their ears and cause more damage, likewise if the noise is too quiet this would be hard for them to hear what is going on around them. This would affect communication because if the noises levels were high because the deaf person wouldn’t be able to concentrate or hear what the other person is saying; this would make the deaf person uncomfortable and they don’t want to be seen as ignorant. One of the strategies people who are deaf use is sign language, which is where people use hand gestures to communicate.
The second barrier I am going to explain is autism. Autism is a mental condition and is mainly detected in an individual as a child. An individual with autism will have difficulties forming relationships with other people and also have problems when communicating with other people. Some people with autism may not know what their 5 senses are so they can’t use them. There are three areas that individuals with autism suffer with, they are; social communication, social interaction and social imagination. Social communication relates to the individual not being able to communicate very well with others in a large group. Social interaction relates to the individual not being able to interact with other individuals because they can’t cope with meeting new people and maybe don’t like it. Social imagination relates to the individual not knowing when someone is joking or being sarcastic. Difficulties with social imagination should not be confused with a lack of imagination. There are a few strategies that can be used to help overcome the barrier of autism. The first strategy is picture cards, this helps because individuals with autism prefer visual contact and by showing them pictures you are helping them to understand easier. Picture cards can include pictures or words; however, it is much better for the individual if the picture cards contain both pictures and words; maybe things like toilets, drinks, television, laptop etc. In terms of negatives of using picture cards one could be that the individual does not know what the picture is of and as a result, the individual is likely to get a little frustrated. Another negative is that if the cards become damaged or you lose them, this problem could distress the individual and cause them to be angry towards people around them. If this happens a lot then their confidence to communicate through the picture cards will be effected. Furthermore in terms of negatives, creating the picture cards can be time consuming and easy to lose. Positives of picture cards could be once the individual with autism knows what the pictures on the cards are they could progress with their learning in terms of writing and improving their speaking skills. Also whilst making the picture cards the individual can get involved and learn how to carry out different activities, this will help to provide the individual with an opportunity to improve their confidence. Another strategy would be a communication passport; this is something that individuals with many different conditions should carry round. Communication passports include; information about the individual, their family and friends and special people they have in their life, also they include what the individual needs help with and things to cheer the individual up etc. It is important for someone with autism to have one of these so that other people around them understand what autism is and understand how to communicate with the individual in the most effective way. This communication passport contains information about the individual, including things like; how to support the person and presenting information in an attractive easy to understand way for everyone. A positive of using a communication passport is that it explains the most effective and least effective ways of communicating with the individual. And this will help the individual because people will be communicating with them in ways they can understand. Also it makes other people know that this individual has autism.

The third barrier I am going to explain is depression. Depression is a serious illness which can be caused by all different reasons for example; losing a loved one, being bullied, being lonely and many other reasons. Depression is more than just feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. When an individual is diagnosed with depression this can harshly lower their self-esteem and make them less confident. It can make an individual feel like they are not good enough and this could make them not want to communicate with others. There are many consequences of depression for example; self-harm and suicide. There are certain strategies that can be used to make an individual with depression feel better about themselves and want to communicate more with others. The first strategy is a befriender/ mentor. This is when an individual with depression meets another individual who they are not related to or close to in any way, and they will help them get through times when they are struggling. The befriender/mentor works with the individual suffering from depression to help them become happier with their life by building a trusting relationship together and then communicating in 1-to-1 conversations. A positive of the befriending scheme is that it provides an unhappy individual with a friendly face who they know they can trust and talk to about their problems and it is something for the individual with depression to look forward to. A negative of the befriending scheme is that, maybe one day when the befriender is needed they might not be available. A positive of a mentor is that there is someone to help and support the individual with depression and try to help them with their problems to make them become happier. A negative of a mentor is that when the mentor is needed by the individual with depression, the mentor might be busy with other people that they support or in meetings. Another strategy for overcoming depression is an advocate; an advocate is a person who will publicly support another individual who has problems communicating with others or when they cannot communicate for themselves. This is helpful for someone with depression when communicating because it gives those effected help and support which they need because they have low confidence and low self-esteem. A positive of having an advocate is that the individual with depression will not have to worry about being embarrassed or scared when trying to speak in front of a large amount of people because their advocate will be there with them. Another positive is that the right decision could be made by the advocate on behalf of the individual. A negative could be that the individual’s family may not agree with the decisions that are being made by the advocate for the individual with depression. Another negative is that it is not cheap to have an advocate and the family or individual may not be able to afford to pay for one.

The last barrier that I’m going to explain is blindness. Blindness is when an individual loses their eyesight and they are no longer able to see. Blindness can be caused by different things, for example; injuries, illnesses, diseases or maybe bright lights in the eyes. Being blind can effect an individual’s communication in many ways since most forms of communication are non-verbal, for example; smiling, waving, facial expressions, eye contact and many more. Because the individual is blind they have to focus more on the other person’s tone of voice to try and understand as well as they can, because they are unable to see non-verbal actions. We must be careful when changing our tone of voice whilst talking to an individual who is blind because they could get confused very easily and if someone uses a loud low toned voice, the individual might feel like they are getting shouted at or feel intimidated. There are also different types of communication skills that blind individuals need to concentrate on in order to be able to understand the conversation properly such as; pace of voice, appropriate language and clarity of voice. There are two strategies that can be used to overcome this barrier which are the text phone and Braille. The text phone is a machine which an individual can speak into it and it types your message up and sends it to the person who you are writing it for. A text phone has both positives and negatives. A positive of a text phone is has is that it is suitable for all blind people and is a really helpful device which can be taken anywhere with the individual. Another positive of the text phone is that it is like the Siri app which is found on the iPhone, the text phone speaks out loud so you know what is going on around you and others could type into the phone what facial expressions they are using whilst they are speaking and the phone would tell the individual, this makes it easier for them to understand more. There are also negatives along with the text phone. A negative of the text phone is that they are very expensive to buy and certain individuals may not be able to buy them. Another negative is that when an individual is speaking into it maybe to send a text message to someone, the text phone might not be able to understand what is getting said, and write it into the phone wrong and send a text message that makes no sense. Another strategy that can help blind people overcome this barrier is Braille; Braille is raised dots on a piece of paper which are formed into words to help blind individuals communicate with others by feeling the paper to know what it says. Braille has also got both positives and negatives. A positive of Braille is that when a blind person goes out to different places they are usually able to find everything because where there are signs there are Braille signs also. Another positive is that other individuals are able to learn how to do Braille and use this as a common type of communication with the individual who is blind. A negative effect of braille is that it could take a while for the individual to learning it and make it which will delay their communication time and they will not be able to communicate with their family and friends and this can have a big impact on their life.

In conclusion, throughout this essay I have spoken about each barrier of communication and how it effects the communication including these barriers; deafness/noise levels, autism, blindness. With autism I explained the strategies to overcome the barriers. Also I spoke about the positives and negatives of the strategies for people with autism. I done this for each of the barriers in detail.

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