The National Mental Capacity Forum has created a toolkit for people with communication difficulties. The toolkit summarises a range of simple steps and strategies, drawn from Speech and Language Therapy, for facilitating effective communication with persons living with communications difficulties. Importance is placed on ensuring you find out what does and doesn’t help a person to communicate, by looking for written recommendations and talking to the service user, their friends, family, and their support team. Additional information includes four key tips for simplifying language:
- Choose familiar words to the person. These tend to be words used regularly in daily life (high-frequency words). Avoid professional jargon or words that are lesson commonly used in everyday life (low-frequency words)
- Example: home/house versus accommodation, or give medicine/tablets versus prescribe medication.
- Use active sentences instead of passive sentences. Put the ‘do-er’ of the action at the start of the sentence.
- Example: The doctor will check your heart versus your heart will be checked by the doctor
- Avoid using too many pronouns such as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘us’, ‘they’, ‘this’. Use the person’s name or title instead.
- Example: The heart doctors will scan your heart. Then the heart doctors will tell your GP your results versus They will scan your heart. Then they will tell us your results.
- Avoid using sentences with multiple parts (clauses). Try to make one point per sentence.
- Example: Your brain injury has caused swallowing problems. Swallowing problems can cause health problems. Swallowing problems can cause weight loss. Swallowing can cause chest infections versus Your swallowing impairment, which is a result of your brain injury, poses risks to your health, including weight loss and pneumonia.
Furthermore, the toolkit includes advice on the basics to have in place, amongst other helpful guidance and links to further reading.
The toolkit can be found here.