Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. Health and social care providers use different methods of communication which include verbal, non-verbal, written, computerised and special methods e.g. British Sign Language, Makaton and Braille. Effective communication is essential in any health and social care setting as it helps in establishing relationships between care providers and service users. Carers need a wide range of communication skills in order to work with clients from different cultural backgrounds.
The most method of communication in a care setting is verbal which is also known as oral communication. This is when words and sentences are used in the process of interaction. Verbal communication is used in care settings to welcome people at the reception desk, directing clients to a certain block in hospital buildings and during conversations between practitioners and service users. It is important to use the right language and formality in order to communicate effectively with colleagues and service users. For example, greeting visitors with 'Good Morning Madam' at a reception desk is more acceptable than just saying 'Hiya'. This is because it uses formal language and shows respect for the visitor or service user. Verbal communication is about listening attentively and asking questions in order to understand the message. For this reason, care practitioners need active listening skills when interacting with clients and colleagues. Verbal communication is also effective in providing emotional support to both employees and service users.
Non-Verbal communication is used in care settings to support verbal communication. This is the process of imparting ideas and opinions without the use of speech. Facial expressions, body language, eye contact, tone in voice and gestures are all forms of non-verbal communication. Body language and facial expressions can help care providers to identify how someone is feeling. For example, if a service is frowning during an interaction, this could mean that they are angry. Eye contact is also a key element when communicating with service users. It is effective in conveying interest and emotions. Keeping eye contact with service users indicates that you are focused and paying attention to what they are saying. However, care providers need to be aware that staring at a client for a long period of time could make them feel very uncomfortable. Gestures could also be used when communicating with service users. They have meanings which vary according to country, religion and culture. The 'thumbs up' sign is generally known to symbolise 'well done' or 'very good' . However some gesture which is accepted in the UK may not be accepted in some part of the world. For example the "Okay" gesture, made by touching together the thumb and index finger in a circle while extending the other three fingers can be used to mean 'okay' In some South American countries, the symbol is actually a vulgar gesture. Therefore, health and social care practitioners need to explore how other cultures use gestures in order to communicate effectively using gestures without offending service users.
Written communication is also used in different health and social care settings to record personal information about clients. For example, their medical history, dietary preferences, religion and social circumstances. It is essential that information is based on facts and recorded accurately. Hand writings need to be clear to clear and spellings need to be correct, because poor writing or spellings will not be understood by service users and colleagues. Written communication is also used in care settings to inform employees about the policies and procedures around the setting, and also to write up questionnaires. Written communication is effective in care