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Rethinking Communication in Health and Social Care

by Annette Roebuck

Interactions between Professionals and Service Users

Health and social care interactions are generally scripted to give more of the active aspects of communication to the staff member. The outcome that the staff member wishes to achieve may well be determined by the way in which they view the role of the service user. For example, where the service user is viewed as a patient being treated, the goal may be to achieve compliance with the most effective intervention; however, if the service user is viewed as a partner, the professional goal may be that of concordance (coming to a mutually agreed aim).

The below video shows an interaction between a professional and a service user. Once you have watched it, return to page 68 of the book and have a go at the questions and activities in Box 3.5 to help put what you have learned into practice!








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In health and social care settings, it's important to remember that not everyone uses words to communicate.

Many professionals feel uncomfortable when they have to interact with people whose communication style seems unusual, different or absent: for example, people with dementia, learning disability, mental health needs or sensory impairment. Poor communication can impact upon the ability of staff to help the people they are paid to support, practically and emotionally.

This does not go unnoticed. It is often recognised by the very people with the above labels (those whom staff judge as being poor communicators), or their families or carers.

The below video gives a valuable insight into how communication difficulties can lead to negative experiences for users of health and social care services. Vicki is a performance poet, and she has written a very powerful poem about the impact of the words associated with various labels on her life. Click 'Play' to see her performance! Once you have watched it, you can return to Box 3.7 on page 74 of the book.