This article explains Barriers to Communication and How to Overcome Them
There are many different theories about barriers to communication, one being A R Pratkanis –Altercasting as an influence tactic this theory describes a tactic for persuading individuals into a certain behaviour pattern by forcing them into a ‘role’ and can be easily applied in a care environment. An example of this is perhaps a carer would say to an individual that they cannot behave in a certain way because that is not how ‘people of your age’ or ‘people in this home’ behave. Enforcing the idea that because an individual is in a particular care setting their role as a resident should be one thing or another but as long as it fits in the homes idea of how things should be. This in turn could cause all kinds of problems for an individual’s communication abilities as they may be uncomfortable in the environment and therefore withdraw from communicating with others.
There are many examples of barriers to communication as listed below:
- Physical – individuals not being in contact with management due to the manager being in a different area of the home and therefore inaccessible to residents. Individuals being unable to make contact themselves but possibly having to go through a long process and having to explain their reasons to staff that the individual may want to complain about etc.
- Emotional – Fear, mistrust, anxiety, low self esteem, suspicion and excessive fears of what others might think are also barriers which would stop individuals from communicating their needs to others
- Cultural – feelings of being ‘outside’ of the group either because of beliefs, religion, up bringing, ethnicity or social standing. Attitudes amongst the individuals in the care home could be prejudiced, arrogant or negative.
- Bureaucratic – the structure of the home might mean that there is lots of ‘red tape’ to get through and this organisational structure could be unclear and therefore confusing for an individual who may not have any idea of who to contact when encountering issues or problems.
- Physiological – ill health, poor vision, hearing loss or impairment , stroke, mental health, and dementia will all impede an individuals ability to communicate i.e. an individual stroke victim will not be easily understood as the facial expressions will be difficult to read making it difficult to distinguish between displeasure, confusion, happiness, sadness, and boredom etc.
- Environmental – the environment may be unsuitable, it may be dimly lit/too brightly lit, noisy, not private, too hot/cold and could even be at a location that is difficult for the individual to get to.
- Language – this is the most obvious barrier to communication not just because people come from different countries but because people come from different eras. A younger person using unfamiliar ‘buzz’ words or jargon could confuse an elderly person as could difficult or inappropriate words and this could prevent understanding.
- Gender – this is also a factor to be taken into account as a man may only wish to discuss certain issues with another man or a woman with another woman.
In a care home environment there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration with regard to communication and staff are to have an up to date knowledge of all of these barriers which will allow the individuals in the care home setting to be able to communicate using their preferred method in their preferred place with their preferred person etc.
Barriers to Communication and How to Overcome Them