Attitudinal barriers are a result of problems with staffing. These can occur by poor management, lack of consultation with employees, personality conflicts which can result in people delaying or refusing to communicate, the personal attitudes of individual employees which may be due to lack of motivation or dissatisfaction at work, brought about by insufficient training to enable them to carry out particular tasks, or just resistance to change due to entrenched attitudes and ideas.
People’s attitudes and beliefs can discriminate and breakdown communication. Discrimination can occur regardless of sex, religion, class, gender, race, marital status, beliefs, disability, sexual orientation and medical conditions. Differences in clients and staff perception and viewpoint along with lack of attention, interest, distractions, or irrelevance to the receiver may also hinder effective communication.
It is important in any care setting that a client’s views and feelings are considered at all times. A care worker should not stereotype clients into a specific group and misjudgments about the way a client presents and not hold prejudice or negative attitudes (UK Distance Learning, Page 58).
The use of jargon, difficult or inappropriate words in communication can prevent clients from understanding the message. Poorly explained or misunderstood messages can also result in confusion. Care workers need to use appropriate language and where possible use an interpreter to overcome these barriers across language differences. Translators must also translate the meaning of the message not just the words being used as there may not be an equivalent phrase or word in another language or sign language (UK Distance Learning, Page 17). Presentation of information is important to understanding. Care workers must consider the clients before making the presentation itself and try to simplify their vocabulary so that the clients will be able understand.
Ambiguity of words sounding the same but having different meaning can convey a different meaning altogether. Hence the communicator must ensure that the client receives the same meaning. It is better if such words are avoided by using alternatives whenever possible.
Aphasia is a disorder that impairs a client’s ability to speak and understand others but does not affect a client’s intelligence, this can be distressing for a client as they can struggle to follow a conversation and severity of the condition can vary greatly (UK Distance Learning, Page 43).
Physiological and Emotional
These may result from individuals' personal discomfort, caused by ill health, poor eyesight or hearing difficulties. Some people may find it difficult to express their emotions and some topics may be completely 'off-limits' or taboo.
The norms of social interaction vary greatly in different cultures, as do the way in which emotions are expressed. For example, the concept of personal space varies between cultures and between different social settings.
Care workers should provide care that is sensitive to the client’s needs with clarity and support the client to self-advocate by aiding the client to express their views and opinions in order to make effective changes:
- Offer continuity of care, staff need to effectively hand over information to new staff starting shifts regarding incidences and any events, changes in medication or care plans.
- Sharing accurate information within a multi-disciplinary team so all staff are aware of any changes.
- Staff development – staff may need to transmit to new workers information on policies and procedures to ensure a good quality of care and service is maintained.
- Staff guidance, managers and senior members of staff need to be able to negotiate work tasks, clear standards of practice and offer support, guidance, emotional support and encouragement.
- Resolve staff conflict, staff personalities may clash or different personal beliefs and values. It is important that conflict is resolved quickly and effectively with mediation and investigation being supported by management.
Gerald Egan developed a theory of communication using an acronym in order to build the components of communication with others. This was outlined in his book called ‘The Skilled Helper’. The acronym he developed is (www.ocr.org.uk):
SOLER is a non-verbal listening technique used in communication with venerable clients and has five basic components to improve effective listening:
- S - Sit attentively at an angle
It is important to sit attentively at an angle to the client. This means that you can look at them directly and shows that you are listening to and that you are conveying interest.
- O - Open posture
It is important for a care worker to have an open posture. This means not sitting or standing with your arms folded across your chest as this can sometimes signal that you are defensive or that you are anxious. If a care worker has an open posture the client may be more inclined to elaborate on their concerns.
- L - Leaning forward
It important that care worker lean forward towards the client, this shows that you are interested in what they talking about. It is also possible that the client may be talking about personal issues and so may speak in a lower or quieter tone of voice. In addition care workers may want to convey a message in a lower or quieter tone of voice if seated in a public environment.
- E - Eye contact
Eye contact is important as this demonstrates that care workers are interested and focused on the message that the client is conveying. Care workers can also develop a sense of the person’s emotional state by making eye contact, therefore, enabling you to judge the extent to which the client may be experiencing difficulty.
- R - Relaxed body language
It is important to have a relaxed body language as this conveys to the client using the service that you are not in a rush. This will enable them to develop their responses to questions in their own time.
Benefits to clients by using SOLER:
- Client will feel empowered to make decisions because they feel that they are being listened to.
- Client will develop a close relationship with the practitioner and feel that they care, which will make them feel less vulnerable.
- Client is more likely to have a speedy recovery from illness if they have a positive relationship with their care workers and can identify any issues that they experience.
- Client will feel more positive about asking for help if they feel that they will receive it in a non-judgemental and productive manner.
Benefits to a care worker by using SOLER:
- Care worker will understand the needs of the person using the service.
- Care worker will effectively address the needs of the person using the service and review care plans more efficiently.
- Care worker can ask the client using the service to elaborate on concerns that they may have, this may enable the care worker and client using the service to develop a more meaningful relationship.
- Health and Social Care Level 3