- Physical barriers
- Physiological barriers
- Systematic barriers
- Language barriers
- Attitudinal barriers
- Psychological barriers
Distance is an example of a physical barrier. Although modern technology has gone some way to overcome this barrier, communication can still be impaired if atmospherics interfere with your call, for example.
Physiological barriers can be raised if a person has a hearing or speech impediment, for example. It may be necessary to raise your voice in an effort to communicate and this is wearing on the speaker. Again, patience is need.
Systematic barriers are those which can exist in one’s working environment. For example, communication channels can sometimes be inefficient causing breakdowns in communication between colleagues and superiors. They may also affect the patient/carer relationship if, for example notes are not passed on to colleagues who need the information they contain. Sometimes workers are simply not aware, because they have not been informed, of their roles and responsibilities within the care-giving environment. Similarly, patients may not have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Communication breakdowns can be very damaging to the carer/patient relationship.
Language barriers can occur when a patient does not have a good grasp of English. In such cases carers should endeavour to employ a professional translator/interpreter who speaks the patient’s language. Care should be taken when this is done, as an unprofessional attitude on the part of a translator who is not a trained professional can de untold damage to the carer/patient relationship. It is important to ensure that any translator or interpreter actually does speak the same variety of language as the patient.
Attitudinal barriers can arise because of resistance to change, for example if a new regime is imposed on a ward, either the patient, the carer, or both could become alienated. Staff may suffer from a lack of motivation and this is another attitudinal barrier. Poor management and clashes of personalities can also raise attitudinal barriers. Managers need to be very aware of their roles and responsibilities when it comes to managing staff and their wards or departments.
Psychological barriers will be erected depending on the mental state of either the carer or the patient. If a member of staff is under pressure and feeling stressed, effective communication may be hampered because they are not taking sufficient care of how the message they have to deliver is being transmitted to the patient. Also, if the patient is feeling stressed, then he or she will not be as receptive to the message as they usually are. Anger should be kept under control at all times when working in a health and social care environment. Things may be said in the heat of the moment that are very detrimental to the relationship that the carer and patient have taken time to build. It may be useful for staff to have anger management training.
Another psychological barrier occurs when people have low self-esteem. They may not be able to communicate effectively and won’t be assertive enough to say what they mean. They might become embarrassed or shy about communicating and so the carer will need to be empathetic and encouraging so that this does not impeded communication. The care, in such a situation will need to read between the lines to discover the true meaning of what the patient is trying to convey.