COMMUNICATING WITH PATIENTS WHO HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS
Communicating with elderly:
· Keep noise levels to a minimum
· Be an attentive listener. Allow time for conversation
· Do not speak loudly or shout.
· Keep sentences short and simple.
· Talk to the client's level of understanding.
· Always ask for feedback.
· Allow time for comprehension.
· Face the client.
Communication with children:
· Use Simple words and direct statements.
· Speak softly and gently.
· Use toys to promote expression.
· Encourage the child to express fear, anxiety, anger and concerns.
· Readily listen to the child.
· Maintain eye contact.
· Use motivating words.
· Get the child's attention before speaking.
· Try not to interrupt in between.
Patients with difficulty hearing:
· Avoid shouting
· Use simple sentences
· Punctuate speech with facial expression and gestures
· Get the client's attention and face the client.
· Talk towards the client's best or normal ear.
· Be sure hearing aid is clean, inserted properly and has a functioning battery.
· Reduce background noise.
Patients with difficulty seeing:
· Communicate verbally before touching the patient.
· Orient the patient to sounds in the environment.
· Inform the patient when the conversation is over and when you are leaving the room.
Patients who are mute or cannot speak clearly:
· Listen attentively, be patient and do not interrupt.
· Ask simple questions that require "yes" or "no" answers.
· Allow time for understanding and responses.
· Use pictures or objects when possible.
· Allow only one person to speak at a time.
· Do not shout or speak too loudly.
· Encourage the patient to converse.
Patients who are cognitively impaired:
· Reduce environmental distractions while conversing.
· Get the patient's attention before speaking.
· Use simple sentences and avoid long explanations.
· Ask one question at a time.
· Allow time for the patient to respond.
Patients who are unconscious:
· Call the patient by name during interactions.
· Communicate both verbally and by touch.
· Speak to the patient as though he or she could hear.
· Explain all procedures.
· Johnson ct al (1989) suggest that communication directed at the unconscious patient may cause stress and anxiety.
· La Puma et al (1988) believe that unconscious patients may have a normal auditory response, and that not talking 10 them suggests that they are not likely to recover, which increases their sense of vulnerability.