Our service users Colom and Kathy who are both part of the steering group for Hidden Lives Remembered have shared their experience of communication in the workplace.
Colom said that he has worked for the Premier Inn for the last 9 years at the weekends as a cleaner. He said that the communication there is okay and so are all the staff. He really enjoys going to work there.
So, getting back to our heritage project. There are different ways of communicating with people who are non-verbal, when talking to them you need to have patience and give them time to respond to you. I usually count to 5 seconds in my head to wait for a reply and check that they have understood what you said, you can usually tell this by their facial expression, being aware of the visual environment around you. Are there any distractions? Is the lighting correct? And so on.
A good way to communicate with someone who is limited in their speech is by learning about and talking about things that they are interested in. A few of our service users are into colouring, and this is a great way to communicate as you talk about the picture, talk about the trees, the river, what colour pencil you are going to use or they are going to use? The possibilities are endless!
In our interviews I sometimes use picture cards, this is to encourage speech if they are able to and also it is visual communication similar to the colouring where they can see what the conversation is about. I look for their reaction to the pictures and they help the person to communicate through pointing to different parts of the picture or choosing an option.
To conclude using lots of different types of communication is important to help us on the Hidden Lives Remembered project as it enables us to ensure everyone’s stories are heard, there are various ways to communicate to and with people, such as dance, drama and using visual tools.