Communicating with residents at Horizon House

  • Use clear, concise and simple language.
  • Give instructions in one or two steps.
  • Remember that residents are routine bound and structured – activities are important.
  • The residents do not understand abstract concepts such as teasing and humour.
  • They seek security.
  • Their thinking is concrete.
  • Show respect in the way you approach them.
  • Residents do not have social inhibitions, e.g. they will invade your private space and will provide inappropriate information.
  • They are not aggressive; some of them are shy and they are mostly well-behaved.

Communicating with disabled persons

  • Talk directly to the disabled person and not through a third party.
  • Offer help, but don’t impose on the person.
  • Allow disabled people to make their own decisions.
  • Don’t talk down to disabled people.

Communicating with blind people

  • Always identify yourself. Don’t assume your voice will be recognised.
  • When being introduced to a visually impaired person, take the person’s hand and shake it as he/she cannot see yours.
  • There is no need to speak louder than usual.
  • Guide them verbally. Offer your arm but don’t grab theirs.
  • Give direction clearly and specifically, without hand signals.
  • Show them to a chair by placing their hand on the back of the chair.
  • Don’t distract the guide dog.
  • When you leave, say that you are going to do so as they cannot see you go.

Communicating with intellectually disabled people

  • Use clear, concise language.
  • Owing to the possibility of limited understanding and speech difficulty, they may take longer to respond.
  • Do not abuse their trust.
  • They participate in all the usual activities of daily living and they have to consider the same needs.

Communicating with hearing-impaired people

  • Get their attention before speaking to them.
  • Look directly at the person and make sure that your face is in the light to facilitate lip reading.
  • Don’t speak with your back to the person.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Don’t speak with anything in or near your face and mouth as this will distort the sound and make face and lip reading difficult.
  • Don’t shout as this will distort sound through a hearing aid.
  • Use hands or gestures if necessary.
  • Use paper and pencil only if absolutely necessary.

Communicating with wheelchair users

  • Do not automatically hold on to a person’s wheelchair.
  • Sit down when talking so that you have eye contact.
  • Be aware of possible architectural barriers when planning an outing.
  • Push a wheelchair down a kerb by placing your foot on the tipping lever at the rear of the chair and take firm hold of the handgrips. Tip the chair backwards and lower gently down the kerb, lower the wheels and proceed.
  • Push the wheelchair up a kerb by putting your foot on the tipping lever, lift the chair off its front wheels and onto the kerb.
  • Speak normally – most people who are wheelchair-bound are there because their bodies are disabled, not their minds.

Communicating with people with epilepsy

  • Remember that they are healthy people most of the time.
  • Repeat the last thing you have said if they suddenly stop doing what they have been doing and saying for a few seconds.
  • Also remind the person of what he/she was saying.
  • An epileptic seizure must run its course.
  • Assist by ensuring room to move, loosening tight clothing and placing a soft cloth in the mouth if it is open.
  • Don’t fuss about a seizure as this will cause embarrassment.
  • Continue as usual after the seizure.

Communicating with people with speech difficulties

  • A relaxed atmosphere is conducive for good conversations.
  • Reduce noise interference by having the doors and windows closed.
  • Allow the person to finish his/her sentences unaided; unless absolutely necessary, refrain from assisting.
  • Don’t pretend to have understood if you haven’t as this will increase frustration.