Unit 2: Advanced communication skills

Course: NVQ Level 4 Diploma In Health And Social Care (RQF)

If you are working in the field of health and social care, developing your communication skills is vital. Whether it be talking to a client or their family, or communicating with other professionals throughout an organization – good communication skills will stand you in good stead for your career.

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Health and social care professionals are usually expected to have a good level of communication skills. This is because this field involves working with people from all walks of life, on a variety of subjects, in different settings. Communication skills can be hard to master as there are many aspects that need attention such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

There are many benefits to being able to communicate effectively, whether it’s in the workplace or in our personal lives. Communication is an integral part of what makes us human and can be crucial when trying to make friends, find a partner or simply enjoy ourselves at home with family. However, for some people communication can become difficult because of anxiety or learning difficulties.

The Level 4 Diploma in Adult Care unit ‘Advanced Communication Skills’ is designed to explore the theory and practice of effective communication. You’ll learn how to communicate with your clients, co-workers, or patients more effectively. Assistive technology is also covered as well as confidentiality which helps keep everyone’s secrets safe! This is comprised of 5 learning outcomes, it can be tailored specifically to what learners need from this particular qualification level at any given point during their studies.

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LO1: Understand communication needs and factors affecting them

This first learning outcome is all about understanding the difference between spoken, written, and non-verbal communication, as well as different disabilities that can affect communication. You need to be aware of how some people may have more difficulty communicating compared with others. There are many reasons why some people find it harder to communicate than others such as mental or physical disabilities, when people get older they often find it more difficult to communicate and society is becoming more diverse. So it’s important that you can identify and adapt your approach to meet these needs.

Analyze different models of communication: Transactional analysis, Lasswell’s

Transactional Analysis (TA) is a theory of personality that was first developed by Eric Berne in the 1960s. TA suggests that we all have an ‘Adult’, ‘Parent’ and ‘Child ego state which helps explain how people communicate. The Adult helps us to make objective observations about a situation, the Child is more egocentric and emotive, while the Parent can be critical.

Lasswell’s Communication Model is another model for understanding effective communication. It suggests that there are seven key aspects in any conversation which are: Who is talking to whom, in what channel (verbal or non-verbal), with what effects, about what objects/ideas, under what conditions?

Analyze why individuals communicate

People communicate for many different reasons. Communication is used to express emotions, thoughts, and feelings, exchange facts and information, or persuade, negotiate or share ideas or opinions. There are many reasons why people choose to communicate. For instance:

  • To inform – giving someone some information that they require.
  • To influence – when you want to change someone’s feelings or ideas about something.
  • To persuade – when you want to influence someone to see your point of view or agree with what you’re suggesting. It could be trying to convince a colleague or member of staff about something such as why it might be beneficial for them to attend training, supervision meetings, workshops, and conferences.

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Analyze how models of communication can meet the individual’s personal needs, wishes and preferences

When you recognize that people have different levels of communication needs, wishes and preferences it can help you to decide what approach would be most appropriate when communicating with them. For example, if someone is deaf you should always try to use British Sign Language first before starting to teach them lip reading. If someone has autism you might choose to communicate with them using a certain approach that best suits their needs.

Explain how barriers to communication may be overcome

Physical barriers affect communication because someone with, for example, a visual impairment will find different methods of communication hard to access. Social barriers can affect communication because some people may not want to talk about certain issues or topics which might make communicating difficult.

Environmental barriers can affect communication when there are noisy distractions or insufficient lighting making it harder to hear what others are saying. Emotional barriers can affect communication when you are feeling stressed, tired, or have low energy levels that may prevent you from communicating effectively with others.

Analyze the effects on an individual of ineffective communication

When you fail to communicate effectively with someone this may have a negative impact on the relationship that you share. For example, if you find it difficult to communicate with certain members of your team and keep having arguments with them about trivial things this might damage the working relationships and could lead to problems such as:

  • Lack of support – when people feel that they are not being listened to.
  • Conflict – when there is a breakdown in relationships leading to people arguing with each other
  • Poor work performance – when people become disengaged with their work, feel unmotivated and start leaving tasks uncompleted or handing in poor quality of work. This might also lead to staff turnover if members of staff feel undervalued and disengaged with their role (they might look for another job that suits them better).

Explain how independent advocacy can help to meet communication needs and the circumstances in which it might be required

Some people are not able to express their own views or advocate for themselves. For example, if someone has a learning disability then they will find it even harder to communicate effectively. In these circumstances, an independent advocate might be appointed to ensure that the person’s wishes are respected by others who need to make decisions about them using information that is recorded in their independent advocate report. This means that the person is not reliant on others to communicate with them and can be in control of communicating about themselves and the decisions made in regards to them.

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LO2: Understand how to support the use of assistive technology to enhance communication

Understanding the principles behind a person’s choice of assistive technology is important when you want to support them. The choice will depend on the individual’s preferences, needs, and aspirations. The type of assistive technology that is approved for use should be appropriate for the user’s age, capabilities, and personal characteristics.

If someone is deaf or has a hearing impairment then an FM system can be used to receive information directly into the ear. This means that they are not reliant upon others who might not understand them using lip-reading or signing to communicate with them. For example, if someone has flu and does not want to pass on the illness then this type of system allows the person to receive information directly instead of having to rely on someone else who may not understand them.

Discuss the role of assistive technology in supporting individuals to communicate

For people who have limited mobility, their world consists mostly of confined spaces and uncomfortable positions. Assistive technology can help them achieve a level of independence and safety that they may not normally enjoy.

They enable individuals to communicate with others for meetings, socializing, or just talking on the phone will probably mean more than any other assistive device you might receive. Don’t forget to mention independence as well as safety-enhancing devices such as alarms designed to protect both the person and those he or she interacts with.

Describe types of support that an individual may need in order to use assistive technology

Different people may need different types of support to use assistive technology. For example, some people might need help with setting up and learning how to use the technology whereas others may just require some ongoing support such as having someone regularly check on them to make sure that they are using it safely. It is important to know what the person needs and this might take some time to establish. The more you can find out about them before you need to use the technology, the better your support will be. When discussing types of support it is important to mention the differences between setting up, using, and maintaining devices. Also, make reference to hazards associated with their use (both for the individual and other people in their lives).

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Describe the specialist services relating to assistive technology

The type of services that the individual is entitled to will depend on their individual needs and circumstances. For example, if they have a learning disability then this might mean they receive help from an educational psychologist who assesses what kind of technology would work well for them. If someone has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) then their care coordinator should be able to provide information about the specialist services that they are entitled to use. If a person has a physical disability then their GP might be able to point them in the right direction.

Explain how to ensure that communication equipment is: a. fit for purpose, b. correctly set up and working, c. able to be used by the individual safely

It is important that their equipment is safe and fits their needs. Also, the person should be able to use it easily and feel confident with it. You can encourage them to try out different types of technology before they choose which one to purchase. For example, if we were assessing a blind individual we might take them shopping and ask them to use their cane to find the product they were looking for while we observed how easy it was for them.

When talking about ensuring that equipment is fit for purpose it is important to mention the multiple factors at play when choosing assistive tech, especially access and functionality requirements. This can relate both to the user’s needs, but also his or her abilities. Also, it is important to encourage trial and error when choosing new devices.

LO3: Be able to interact with individuals

When you interact with someone using assistive technology it can feel quite different from how it might be if they were not reliant on a particular piece of equipment. Let’s take a person who uses a wheelchair as an example: It is important to realize that the person may only have very limited movement and so they may be unable to move their wheelchair themselves. They might also need help moving between different spaces or places to sit down and get up again. When communicating it is important not to lean towards the person as this puts them off, instead you should ask them where they would like you to position yourself so that they feel comfortable. It can also be hard to use a computer that is positioned much lower than usual. It might be helpful to have a stool nearby which you can move to support the person as they need it.

Work in partnership with the individual and others to identify their preferred methods of communication

When you interact with an individual who has a disability, there are some things that they might find easier than others. It is important to stay in touch with the person before you meet them to find out how best to let them know what’s happening. For example, if the individual has severe hearing loss then using email might be better than sending postcards. Also, if they have difficulty using the phone then text messages might be the most appropriate way to keep in touch. Make sure you stay in contact with them and find out what types of communication methods work best for them, and let them know that they can ask you to make contact in a different way if it is more comfortable for them (for example, by using text messages).

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Use agreed methods of communication to interact with the individual

The individual will let you know what types of communication methods work best for them, and it might help to keep a list around that they can refer to. For example, if the person has a learning disability then this might mean they receive help from an educational psychologist who assesses what kind of technology would work well for them. If someone has autistic spectrum disorder then they might opt for email rather than phone calls. If someone has a physical disability then it might be better to use text messages rather than sending them postcards in the mail.

Interact with an individual using: a. active listening, b. reflective listening

Active listening means that you listen to what the person is saying and respond in a way that shows you understand their point of view. For example, if they are talking about difficulties they are having with using technology then it might be helpful to show empathy by agreeing or understanding where they are coming from. Reflective listening means that you listen to what the person is saying, but then restate it in a different way. This might be helpful if they are having trouble communicating their point of view appropriately or you think there might be some misunderstandings.

Monitor the individual’s responses during and after the interaction to check the effectiveness of communication

It might be helpful to ask the individual how they felt about their communication with you if they are willing to share this information. You should also be monitoring your own responses to check that you feel confident in using the communication methods that have been agreed upon. If there are any issues then it might be helpful to discuss these further with other professionals or the individual to find out if there are any changes that can be made. If you expected the interaction to go one way but it went in another direction then it might help to think about why this happened and what could have been done differently.

It might be helpful to make notes of any improvements or changes you notice during the interaction. For example, if they seem more relaxed and willing to communicate it can help to be aware of this so you can carry on doing what works well. This is especially important if you are working in a team. If someone has significant learning disabilities they might need more time to understand what is going on, and it is helpful for the other person involved to be patient with them while this happens.

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LO4: Be able to convey information to individuals and others

The amount of information you are able to convey to an individual might depend on the specific situation you are involved in. For example, if the individual has little understanding of autism spectrum disorder then it might be better to talk about the advantages of using technology than explaining complicated theories. If someone has poor language comprehension due to significant learning disabilities then short sentences and talking slowly might be more effective than long paragraphs with lots of text.

Also, it is important that you are conveying information in a way that is appropriate for the person. For example, if someone has autism spectrum disorder then it might be better to present this information visually rather than with words. If someone has learning disabilities they might have trouble following complicated theories, which means you need to keep the language simple and break down ideas into small chunks of information.

Use formats that enable an individual and others to understand the information conveyed

It might be helpful to present information in different formats if this is appropriate. For example, you can use both words and diagrams for some people with learning disabilities. If someone has autism spectrum disorder then it might be good to explain things using a video rather than just words too. Using visuals in addition to text can also help an individual understand what you are saying. For example, if someone is having trouble understanding what autism spectrum disorder is you can explain it by using a diagram. If they are still confused then you could use another visual technique to help them understand this better such as a photo or video of someone with an autism spectrum disorder.

Assess an individual’s understanding of the information conveyed

It is important to make sure that you are conveying information in a way that helps the individual understand it. For example, if someone cannot read then it might be better to present information visually rather than with words. If someone has autism spectrum disorder then they might need information presented in this way too. You can assess your own understanding of their understanding by checking things such as their facial expressions and gestures. For example, if someone is smiling or nodding it could be because they understand what you are saying or it could mean something else so you need to check with them.

If the individual does not seem to have understood the information then it might be helpful to restructure your message in a different way.

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LO5: Understand the importance of confidentiality in interactions with individuals.

When conducting interactions with an individual it is important that you respect their privacy by keeping what they tell you confidential. For example, if someone tells you about a personal matter then it should be kept between the two of you unless there are legal reasons for sharing this information. It should also be your priority to make sure the individual feels safe and comfortable when talking with you.

If you are asked to share information about someone then you need to assess whether this request is legal or not. For example, if the person’s life is in danger it might be appropriate to tell someone else but this should always be with the individual’s permission.

You should be aware of the fact that confidentiality is important but there are also times when it might be appropriate to share information. For example, if someone’s life is in danger then you need to tell someone else so they can help them. If a child tells you about abuse at home or a person tells you about a crime they have committed it is also appropriate to share this information. If you are not sure whether it is appropriate to share information then you need to assess the situation. For example, if someone is not in danger but they are suicidal then you can share information with an appropriate person with their permission.

Analyze the implications of assistive technology for maintaining confidentiality for the individual

If someone is using assistive technology such as a webcam or microphone it might be harder to ensure their privacy. If they have disabled these features then it will be easier to maintain confidentiality when communicating with them which is what you should do. If someone is using features such as a webcam or microphone when communicating with you then it might be better to suggest they disable these so their privacy is protected.

For confidentiality to be maintained then the individual might need to use assistive technology such as signing in order to get into a website. This might mean that communication with them is not always face-to-face but it means that you can make sure they are safe and understand what they are doing before interacting with them. It also means that you can monitor the interaction in case they say anything that concerns you.

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