Getting it right:
Assessments for black and minority ethnic carers and service users

Activity: Effective communication part one

Tips

You may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions before you attempt the exercise:

  • How can you improve the quality of information between yourself, Mr and Mrs Choy and the community worker?
  • What issues should you consider to ensure that all parties are able to access the information they need?

Introduction

You have been asked to carry out a community care and carers assessment on Mr and Mrs Choy. The worker from the minority ethnic carers centre has agreed to be present at any meetings to support Mr and Mrs Choy and to provide communication support.

Assessments are the first step in accessing many local authority social work services. It is therefore vitally important that assessments:

  1. Gather accurate information in relation to the needs and wishes of the individual
  2. Ensure effective communication between the two parties – ie the assessor and the individual being assessed

You have never been in a professional situation where communication support was required since English has always been the first language. You are committed to ensuring that the assessment process will be as supportive and effective as possible for both Mr and Mrs Choy and yourself.

Question

List five things that you would need to consider both before and during the meeting to ensure that all parties are able to participate effectively in the assessment meeting.

Example

You would need to consider things such as allowing more time for the assessment, as the questions may have to be conveyed to Mr and Mrs Choy in a language other than English, with the answers translated back for your benefit.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Answer

Language and communication difficulties pose significant problems for minority ethnic communities and the extent to which they are able to contribute to their own assessment of need.

Conclusion

Communicating effectively across cultural and linguistic boundaries can be especially difficult in stressful situations, particularly where one party is seen as more powerful than the other.

The effects of anxiety, older age, illness and pain can also limit an individual’s ability to communicate whatever their preferred language. Where language and communication are problematic, it is the responsibility of the assessor to ensure that appropriate support is provided. The use of interpreters and translators can do much to enhance communication – as can the approach adopted by the individual assessor.

In working with people whose first language is not English, you will need to consider the following:

  1. How to interpret non verbal communication
  2. How to ensure effective communication
  3. How to work effectively with professional interpreters