Care Workers’ Perceptions and Knowledge of the Individual Communications Needs of Residents in Care Homes for the Elderly
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Research into communication between care workers and elderly residents in care homes suggests that care workers lack specific knowledge, skills and training to identify and facilitate communication opportunities for individual residents, particularly those with communication disorders. Aims: To explore care workers’ perceptions of the communication needs of individual residents, and to draw inferences regarding their knowledge and awareness of communication and communication disorders. Methods and procedures: Four carers were interviewed from two care homes. An informal semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant. Outcomes and results: The primary data were analysed for emerging subthemes, which were grouped under super-ordinate theme headings. Comparing the narratives of the different interviewees revealed similarities and differences in relation to their perceptions and knowledge of communication and communication disorders. Conclusions and implications: Participants revealed partial awareness of disorders, limited factual knowledge and no references to training directly related to communication. However, a person-centred approach to caregiving was prominent through recurrent themes related to positive care-giver qualities. The results support the need for Speech and Language Therapists to have a greater involvement in communication training for care workers, thus enabling them to enhance their professional skills and effectiveness, and ultimately improve the quality of life of each individual resident.
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