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Barriers to communication There are a range of barriers to effective communication in health and social care settings and carers must think about how to overcome these barriers. A communication barrier stops or disrupts the flow of information from one person to another. 1 Language The way a person uses language can be a barrier to effective communication. For example, a strong accent, use of a dialect, technical words/jargon or slang can make it difficult to understand what someone is saying and can lead to misunderstandings or no understanding at all. This can affect communication between native speakers and non-native speakers. How to overcome this type of barrier •

Check understanding by paraphrasing and summarising

Avoid jargon and slang

Speak clearly

Use non-verbal communication

2 Disability A person who has hearing problems, or visual or speech impairment may have problems communicating effectively. People with hearing and visual problems may have particular problems receiving information from another person. How to overcome this type of barrier •

Ask the person how they like to communicate and what aids they need ( this could be in writing)

Use a skilled interpreter or signer for BSL or use Makaton

Check the environment- make sure noise levels are low, seating is appropriate

3 Low self-esteem/depression People who have low self-esteem or who are depressed often feel incapable of dealing with the problems they face. Lack of confidence, negative thinking and mood can stop them from communicating effectively. How to overcome this type of barrier •

Build up their self-esteem through a supportive relationship

Focus on positive aspects of the person’s life


Ensure that everything they say is confidential

Encourage them to set personal goals and plan for the future

4 Cultural differences A person’s culture can influence what they think is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and what they believe is important. When people from different cultures interact there can be problems with communication because people sometimes assume that other people are the same and have the same beliefs as they do. This could be related to things like diet, relations between men and women and clothes.

How to overcome this type of barrier •

Develop knowledge and awareness of different cultures- particularly in relation to touch, eye contact and proximity

Becoming more aware of how you use body language

Not making assumptions about other cultures

Match the meanings to the correct word from the text. 1 How near someone is to another person

2Helpful and sympathetic

3 To interrupt something and prevent it continuing

4 To concentrate on a particular thing

5 Something you think is probably true, but you have no proof

6 Physical problem


7 A way of speaking a language in one region of a country

8 Special or technical words

9 To succeed in dealing with a problem


Barriers to communication