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Guide to Communicating with Adults with a Learning Disability

There are plenty of care home jobs in Basingstoke, but if you’re going to make the most of the available opportunities, it’s important to understand how to communicate effectively with service users. Many adults with learning disabilities struggle to make their thoughts and feelings known, so effective communication is key. We’ve put together a useful guide to help you maximise your communication opportunities, leading to improved outcomes both for you and for the person you’re helping.

Make time and space to talk

Making yourself understood isn’t always easy when you have a learning disability. So make the most of interactions by ensuring they take place in a quiet and calm place, with as few distractions as possible. This gives you the time and space to understand what the service user is trying to convey.

Go over what’s been said

It’s important that you let the person know you understand what they are saying – or make it clear if you don’t understand. Repeating what has been said is reassuring to the other person, letting them know that their message has been heard. Be ready to defuse any frustration or anger about not being understood.

Take it slowly

Set aside a block of time so you don’t have to rush. Any sign of frustration on your part will impact the other person negatively, so do everything you can to make it easier for them to communicate. Perhaps they could draw you a picture? Or maybe they could take you and show you what they’re trying to convey? Try to think outside the box to make it easier for them to get their message across.

Use facial expressions and hand gestures

Think about the way you express yourself when communicating with someone with a learning disability. Exaggerated facial expressions and dramatic hand gestures can all help to get a message across more effectively than using words alone. If one approach doesn’t seem to be working, try something different – the onus is on you to try to understand what’s being conveyed.

Since it is mandatory for all co-workers to wear face masks during the pandemic, service users will not be able to read facial expressions in quite the same way. Additional verbal and gesture-based communication is therefore important in providing the service user with reassurance and a sense of support.

Learn Makaton

A universal ‘language’ of sounds and gestures, Makaton is a proven method for communicating with adults and children with learning disabilities, helping to make two-way conversations much easier. You can find out more about it online, or ask at your care home if there is training available.

Finding care home jobs in Basingstoke

It’s easy to find care home jobs in Basingstoke, but it’s worth spending some time thinking about the types of people you’d like to work with. Some carers favour working with children, but working with adults can be just as rewarding, so don’t be too quick to limit your options.

Search the media for potential job openings, but be proactive too. Try approaching some care homes directly, telling them about your desire to move into a new sector. You’ll be surprised how much help and support is available for carers, with plenty of career advancement opportunities too for those wanting to progress over time.