Communication is vital for everyday life, from expressing needs to showing emotions. People with learning disabilities often have difficulty communicating, making life challenging. That’s why the care staff at our learning disabilities care home in Uckfield, East Sussex, are trained to communicate in various different ways.
Challenges faced by people with learning disabilities
A learning disability is sometimes defined as reduced intellectual ability, meaning people often find it hard to understand complex information. There are levels of learning disability, from mild through moderate and severe to profound. Some people have PMLD, profound and multiple learning disability, which may include difficulty seeing, hearing or speaking, creating additional challenges for communication.
The importance of communication
Imagine not being able to tell anyone that you need something, you’re in pain, or you want to express how you feel. Imagine people talking to you and not understanding what they are saying. These are the challenges that face many people with learning disabilities. Not being able to make yourself heard can lead to frustration and is often the cause of challenging behaviour.
How we communicate with people with learning disabilities isn’t just about how we talk to them, it’s also about how we listen to them. Body language, eye contact, and patience are all important. The person you are communicating with needs to know that you are paying attention, understanding them and that you aren’t rushing them or getting impatient. It’s also important to be aware of their body language and facial expressions, something that our care staff get to know well as they interact with people on a daily basis.
Conversing with words
Some people with learning disabilities can communicate well by talking but it’s important to keep language simple. Using short, straightforward sentences, while avoiding long words, metaphors and idioms will help. You might think that asking yes or no questions is easier, but it’s not. Open questions are often a better way to communicate and it’s good to check with the person you are talking to to make sure you’ve understood correctly.
When talking to someone with a learning disability, it’s helpful to be face to face in a quiet place free from distractions. Our care staff will always stop what they are doing and give someone their full attention when needed.
Other forms of communication
Communication isn’t just about talking. How we communicate with people with learning disabilities can sometimes look very different. Some people find it easier to use facial expressions, gestures, pictures, sign language, or a combination of these things. It may be easier to draw a picture than to speak a sentence. For others, gestures or sign language is a preferred method of communication.
There is a language programme called Makaton that lots of people with learning disabilities use to communicate. Makaton is a combination of signs, symbols and speech that gives people different options to communicate depending on what suits them best.
Talking Mats is another communication system that uses specially researched and commissioned symbols developed to help people with learning disabilities express their views.
Helping people feel understood
At our learning disabilities care home in Uckfield, East Sussex we are dedicated to ensuring all our residents and day care visitors feel that they can express themselves and be understood. Communication is essential for a good quality of life and that’s why we train our staff to communicate in the various ways described above. We encourage our residents to work on personal goals, which can include learning a new method of communication that works well for them.
Find out more about Halland House by visiting our website or contacting us for more information.