When caring for people with learning disabilities, it is very important that you are able to understand them well and make yourself clearly understood. Effective communication is especially important for people with learning disabilities as they often rely on the support of others to do daily tasks. Here are a few tips to make effective communication with people with learning disabilities:
1. Take your time: People with learning disabilities have different levels of communication difficulty. As a caregiver, you must give yourself time to assess whether your patient is someone with mild communication difficulty or severe difficulty. After allowing yourself this additional time to exchange information, you as a caregiver would be able to choose the level and pace of language. Instead of rushing the communication, take your time.
2. Don’t assume things: Some people have better communication skills than expressive skills while some don’t express well but comprehend easily. One may assume that a person’s with expressive speech is comprehending well. Some people may respond to your question but after much delay. Therefore, understand the rhythm of communication that different adults with learning difficulties have.
3. Face-to-face communication: The best way to communicate with a person with learning disabilities is to have a face-to-face chat. Use easily understandable words, and speak slowly and clearly. Always check with the person if they understand what you are saying. If you are communicating through text, use bigger text and bullet points. Don’t use too many colours as it can be distracting.
4. Use objects and images to communicate: Through visuals and objects, you can communicate better with some adults with learning disabilities. A visual checklist is a great way to remind an adult with learning disabilities to accomplish different tasks. Visual aids are often easier to communicate to some adults who may not respond to spoken words. However, while choosing visual aids, selection should be made on the basis of a person’s abilities and communication needs.
5. Look for non-verbal cues: A person with learning disabilities may try to communicate with you by their body language and facial expressions. When you are asking a question, make a facial expression to reinforce what you are saying. Facial expressions and nonverbal cues can help you as a caregiver understand the person better and the person too will feel at ease to express himself or herself. For this, you need to be more patient, observant and flexible.
6. Use positive sentences: Some people with learning disabilities may show challenging behaviour like restlessness, anxiety, and anger control problems. Instead of using negative sentences like ‘you can’t do this now’, use positive sentences like ‘we will do this tomorrow’.
For care home staff, daily work can be quite overwhelming and on top of it, managing MAR sheets manually can be time-consuming. To help caregivers devote time for personal care to the residents, switch to electronic MAR, a smart alternative to MAR sheets. Not only does eMAR streamline medication administration and save care workers’ time, but it also reduces human error. To learn more about eMAR, visit https://www.electronicmar.co.uk.