The Meaning Of Effective Communication In Healthcare

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One in six individuals in the UK are affected by hearing loss. This makes hearing loss the second largest disability in the UK. With so much of our population affected by this, it is important to understand how hearing plays a crucial part in communication as it affects day to day life. When discussing communication, the first connotation a person would make is to language. But what is language? How does an individual perceive language? How effective is spoken language in communication? Communication is a transfer of information between two or more people. Mehrabian’s communication theory gives us an insight and informs us on how only 7% of spoken words; what we would associate with being ‘good communication’, relates to feeling and attitudes, 38% of how words are said relating to feelings and attitudes alongside 55% of meaning being in facial expressions. 

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One communication problem a person with a hearing loss may encounter is problems in the workplace/school environment. For example, evidence shows that 36 per cent of deaf children achieved five GCSEs (including English and maths) at grades A* to C in 2014, compared with 65 per cent of other children.  These findings suggest there is a problem arising where a percentage of the deaf community are leaving school; an institution where an individual is expected to leave ready for the workplace, inadequately prepared with the skills ready for the demands beyond a basic level. This subsequently means they will be hindered by what they can go onto doing in further education and also will further hinder their progression in their job role as they will continue to achieve less than the average individual. For example, lack of hearing for an individual will cause problems for communicating with a supervisor who is giving oral instructions.With a lack of writing and reading skills, this percentage of people will struggle to communicate with other professionals in the workplace, leading to problems such as social withdrawal and depression.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that whilst this may be problematic for the hard of hearing, this will affect those with disabilities such as Autism. This is because they will have difficulties perceiving emotion’s, social interactions and routines. For example, one strategy an individual with a hearing loss may use to manage their lack of communication, is by lip-reading. This is a life skill many deaf people have learnt to become accustomed too once their hearing deteriorates. However, an individual with a hearing loss may find this incredibly difficult as they may struggle with eye contact and joint attention. This could impact the child in many ways. Firstly, verbal or non-verbal communication is a vital mechanism used to inform another individual when there is a potential hazard. This means that it makes a person aware that their life is potentially at risk and to do so, need to take immediate action to avoid it, for example in a house fire. Therefore, autistic people could possibly be at a higher risk compared to the rest of the population, simply because although their hearing senses is impaired, they also cannot articulate information effectively to be able to understand the dangers surrounding them, ultimately making them a vulnerable group in society.

Finally, alongside many others, another problem for someone suffering from deafness is that they may find it challenging to access services and support. This is because with the emergence of technology in this decade, many services and companies/organisations have resulted to using technology to allow service users to access information quickly and to speedily book appointments, get in contact etc. An example of this may be the health services. Many individuals would now book an appointment over the phone by calling their local GP surgery as it is fasted, and more convenient; for both the patient and the GP surgery. However, if you are deaf, this normal procedure to get an appointment may be difficult, inconvenient and a struggle for you. Furthermore, even activities such as attending your appointment with their GP may be frustrating as they have many queries, and if the health professional is not trained on how to deliver important information to a deaf person about their diagnosis, referral information, or on their medication then they should seek effective information on how to do so immediately as this could be potentially very dangerous for the individual. However, although this may be one challenge of communication for a deaf person, there are many strategies which make life easier for a deaf person. For example, textphones (minicom) ensure you can communicate to another individual over text messaging over a telephone line. This has made life easier for people who have a hearing loss and ensures they feel included in conversations and creates ease for them for day to day living. 

Overall, these factors amongst many may be the reason why deaf people are hesitant, reluctant or afraid to ask for support because of a social stigma being attached to the deaf community. Due to this there will always be a lack of social support available for individuals with a hearing loss as it is not discussed or integrated enough in everyday environments such as schools, workplaces, health services etc. Although there are effective ways to aid individuals with a hearing loss such as improvements from the health and emergency services, there will always continue to be challenges in communication for deaf people as communication is always advancing and changing daily for example with technology and subsequently this will be disadvantageous for the deaf community who only make up a small population.  

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