How to Establish an Individual’s Communication and Language Needs, Wishes and Preferences

It is untrue to say that someone cannot communicate. Even where someone is unable to speak they will communicate by using other means, for example a person with a profound learning disability might communicate by throwing things, screaming or touching part of their body when in pain. Our job is to recognise this as valid communication, get to know the person and to understand how they let us know what they are feeling. We need to enable to person to express themselves successfully without the need to go to such extremes to get their point across.

How to establish the communication needs, wishes and preferences of an individual

Individuals will have a range of different needs and preferences. Their unique communication needs will differ depending on their ability, disability, illness and condition. To find out what an individual’s needs are you have to connect with them. Connecting with the person is the single most important factor in providing a good service. If you can’t do it by talking you need to use other methods of communication to maximise their opportunities to participate in communication and enable them to express their own choices, needs and opinions. Another good source of information would be the individual’s family, friends or carer.

We need to make sure that we do all within our power to enable a person to make his or her own decisions as independently as they can and to have the means to express these choices.

The Equality Act 2010 requires us to make reasonable adjustments to maximise the access of disabled people and this includes ensuring that our communication is accessible to them; that we support and facilitate their communication and that we provide and/or use the necessary facilities such as equipment which they may use in order to communicate.

Compassion in Practice 6C’s emphasises “no decision about me without me”.

Facilitating communication means understanding the other person’s specific and particular communication. We need to make a personalised response rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ approach or be stereotyping or making assumptions about people’s needs. It is important not to label people with profound learning disabilities or autism as having challenging behaviour when in fact the person in communicating with us in the only way they know how e.g. by doing something rather than saying something to convey their thoughts or feelings.

Use to answer question 6.2a of the Care Certificate

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