Method. How effective is this method?
Speak to/Observe the Individual. In most cases, I believe this to be one of the most effective ways to communicate with an individual. By striking up a conversation with an individual, I can usually assess whether they are able to use the English language to communicate and how accomplished they are with it. That is not to say that this always works – it does have limitations. An individual may choose not to converse with me, in which case I may not be able to ascertain if they cannot use verbal language or they are choosing not to use it. If an individual does choose to talk to me, I am able to assess how comfortable they are with this method of communication and adjust my own language accordingly. If an individual is non-verbal, I may still be able to find some way of communicating with them, perhaps by using signs, body language or pictorial aids.
Read their Care Plan. All Care Plans should have a section on communication, which describes an individual’s preferred communication methods. This is a very effective method of finding out the communication and language requirements of an individual as the Care Plan will have been written following consultation multiple people that are involved in the individual’s life; this includes the individual themselves, their support staff, their family/relations/friends and the multi-disciplinary team.
Speak to the Individual’s Friends/Family/Relations. Family and friends are often the closest people to an individual and have known them for the longest period of time. Consequently, they will understand their communication needs more than anybody else and be able to provide useful pointers on how to communicate or communicate more effectively with them.