How to Make Communication Easier for People with Hearing Loss

Published: 06/05/2019

For Deaf Awareness Week, we're looking at the things we can all do to make communication easier for people with hearing loss.

As homecare providers, we work with lots of people who have hearing loss. In fact, Action on Hearing Loss report that around 75% of people in a care setting have some kind of hearing problem, mostly due to age-related hearing loss. That means it’s really important for us to know how to effectively support people living with the condition.

As it’s Deaf Awareness Week from 6th to 12th May, we thought we’d look at how we can all improve our communication skills to support people with hearing loss to communicate well.

Effective strategies to aid communication

Most of the things you can do to improve your communication techniques are basic common sense, but it’s surprisingly easy to overlook simple factors. If we’re used to communicating with people who can hear well, we can slip into unhelpful habits. When talking to someone with a hearing impairment, it’s always good to just take a moment and remember some of the following techniques.
  1. Get rid of distractions. The environment you’re in will have a big effect on how effectively you’re able to talk to the person. Lots of background noise, like the TV or people talking, will make hearing more difficult. A very busy situation, such as a public place full of people moving about, or a home environment with attention-seeking pets or children, can also make concentrating more challenging for the person. Make sure you are the centre of their attention when you’re trying to convey something.
  2. Be visible. Make sure the person can see your face clearly when you’re talking. It gives them a chance to lip read and to watch your facial expressions. We communicate more through our face and body language than we do with words, so make sure the person can see you well.
  3. Be more physical. As mentioned, we often just concentrate on words, but body language is a key part of communication. Using gestures as you talk or demonstrating an action can really help someone get to grips with what you’re saying.
  4. Be clear and concise. Using clear, direct language and short sentences will help you get your message across without confusion. Keep to the point and don’t over-complicate things. Repeating information or changing how you say it can help if the person is still struggling to understand.
  5. Be patient and assess the mood. If someone feels under pressure to understand what you’re saying, it will make communication that much harder. Being relaxed about everything is a big help. It’s also important to remember that there may be times when concentrating might be more difficult for the person, if they’re feeling unwell or on certain medications, for example, so remember to factor that in when choosing times to talk.
  6. Be natural. Yes, you might have to speak more clearly, loudly or slightly slower than usual, but shouting or over-exaggerating your speech can actually make it more difficult for the person to understand.
  7. Use prompts. Writing things down on a pad or using prompt cards with words or pictures can be helpful if someone is finding it hard to comprehend what you’re telling them.
  8. Consider professional help. It’s surprising how many people just accept hearing loss and don’t seek advice from professionals. If you can, help the person to get their hearing checked and find out what aids might be available to improve their hearing.
  9. Get specialist training. If the person has a specific communication style, like using sign language, for example, why not consider learning how to do it? Not only will the person be able to communicate more effectively, but you will gain a useful new skill that’s transferable to other care situations.
It goes without saying that everyone will have personal preferences when it comes to the way they want to you to communicate with them. Once you know what methods they prefer, you can tailor your communication accordingly.

Helping people with hearing loss in the Wandsworth community

At Bluebird Care Wandsworth, we understand how fundamental the ability to communicate is to a person’s wellbeing and overall quality of life. That’s why we create bespoke care plans that cater for each person’s unique communication style, whether they have hearing loss or any other condition that affects their ability to connect with others.

If you’d like more support to live safely and comfortably at home, contact us about our home care services.

For more information on hearing loss, visit the NHS website or Action on Hearing Loss.