How can we improve communication to avoid discrimination?

Nicola Sherlock considers the technique and tools that help teams develop good relationships with a diverse patient base.

There are many ways we can learn to communicate with our patients other than with the spoken word. 

Firstly, taking time to listen will prove to your patients you are not someone without time for them nor someone who is likely to discriminate based on their condition, difficulties, or disability. If they feel they can trust you, they will be more likely to co-operate with treatment in the future.

The golden rule, no matter what the patient’s medical history states, is to always assume the patient has capacity and a comprehension level similar to your own. Speak to the patient and involve them, not just the support worker or carer. 

Blogger Chloe Tear, university student and Head Ambassador for Cerebral Palsy Teens UK, says, ‘Other people often think we have a lower IQ as a result of not being able to walk properly or because we are in a wheelchair. They mistake the brain damage for damage to all of our brain. It is possible for someone with CP to also have their intelligence impaired, due to everyone being affected differently, but this is often not the case.’

Each patient will obviously need a tailored approach as we are all different regardless of diagnoses. This article is not exhaustive in its types of communication nor disabilities. However, the following tips may help the reader and their team to pick-and-mix techniques and tools to assist them in communication with our ever-diverse patients.

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