Health & Safety

Legal / Social Services

Social & Personal Development

Caregivers Needs



Communication with people
Communication with people
Photo by Brianna Amick from Pexels

This module underlines the importance of understanding non-verbal communication (nuances of body language, signing, visual images and the appropriate use of touch).

We often take core skills - which include English (or partner language), number and digital skills - for granted, but research suggests many adult social care staff may need support with the core skills they use in their day-to-day roles. Quality is a key driver in the adult social care sector so everyone needs to be able to read, understand and follow instructions, carry out tasks with the right degree of precision, keep numerical and written records and be able to handle basic numbers and calculations. Caregivers at all levels need good speaking and listening skills to express themselves clearly, actively listen to others and react appropriately to what they hear and see.

This module puts caregivers in a position with non-verbal situations, to make them react and understand what it means.


Helping people
Helping people
Photo by Kampus Production from Pexels

Use respectful language

Different terms are used around the world to describe a disability and refer to people who are disabled, aging or gradually losing their faculties. Some words and phrases may have a negative, disrespectful or discriminatory connotation. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is translated into several languages and can be a useful guide to using terms on disability that are both sensitive and appropriate. Translations are available at: http://wrc.ms/CRPD_translations Disabled People's Organizations (DPOs) can also advise us on the preferred terminology of people with disabilities in a given country. In some humanitarian contexts, the affected population may have set up disability associations or committees to represent persons with disabilities — these can also be a good source of guidance for respectful language (see following table).



To highlight the impairment or condition of a perso.n For example: Disabled

Highlight the person, not their disability. For example: Disabled/disabled person with reduced mobility

Negative terms about disability. For example: "suffers" from polio "risk" of becoming blind "confined to" a "paralyzed" wheelchair

Use rather neutral language. For example: "has polio" "may lose sight" "uses a wheelchair" "has a disability”

To refer to people without disabilities using terms such as "normal people" or "healthy"”

Try to say "people without disabilities"”

Use a strengths-based approach

  • Don't make assumptions about the skills and abilities of people with disabilities — this can affect how we communicate and interact with them. Remember that people with disabilities are people first and foremost. Like everyone else, their opinions, skills and abilities differ.
  • Observe what they can do. This can often give you an idea of how they communicate and participate in your activities.
  • Greet people with disabilities in the same way you would with others. For example, offer a handshake (if culturally appropriate), even if the person has a disability on their arm.
  • Speak directly to the person with a disability and not to their interpreter or assistant/caregiver.
  • When chatting over an extended period of time, try to place your gaze at the level of that of your interlocutor, if this is not already the case (e.g. by sitting on a chair or mattress).
  • Treat adults with disabilities as you treat other adults. Discussions and activities must remain age-appropriate and then tailored to the individual's specific communication needs.
  • Ask for advice. If you have questions about what to do, how and in what language, or what assistance you can provide, ask them. The person you're trying to work with is always your best resource.

Working with people with different disabilities

In addition to the above tips, there are communication and engagement strategies to consider, depending on the type of disability of the person. When working with people with physical disabilities:

  • Go at their own pace. Do not walk faster than them if they move more slowly than you.
  • When offering your help, always ask for what they need beforehand.


Follow their instructions and not what you think is better suited.

  • Do not lean/move a person's wheelchair or assistive device without their permission.
  • Discuss transportation options for activities and events. Think about the safest, most comfortable mode of transportation that represents the least possible effort for the person and their family.
  • Make sure that the places and spaces dedicated to activities are accessible (including toilets, etc.) and spacious enough for people with reduced mobility so that they can move around the room.
  • When holding meetings with a participant who is moving in a wheelchair, provide enough space around the table for a wheelchair (e.g. remove a chair) and make sure there is enough space in the room so that they can move freely.

When working with people who are deaf or hard of hearing:

  • Find out about the person's preferred method of communication. People with hearing loss may use writing, lip reading and/or sign language. This can be determined by observing their interactions with others or by using simple gestures to suggest communication options.
  • Draw the person's attention before you start talking, by raising your hand or waving politely.
  • Stand in front of the deaf person and speak directly to them, not their interpreter (as they are there only to facilitate dialogue).
  • Express yourself clearly — don't shout or exaggerate the pronunciation of words, it complicates lip reading.
  • Try not to sit or stand with your back to the light — this can create backlight and complicate lip reading.
  • Do not cover your mouth or eat when you speak. This can complicate lip reading.
  • Allow the person who is deaf or hard of hearing to sit in the desired place in a meeting to clearly distinguish faces and communicate more easily.
  • During meetings, make sure the interpreter hears the presenter and the rest of the group. It must also be visible to the people for whom it interprets.

When working with visually impaired people:

  • Always introduce yourself and other members of the group by name. • Let the person know when you move or leave their space — don't just leave.
  • If the person arrives at a new location, let them know who is in the room or in the group, and offer to describe the environment.
  • Avoid vague terms, such as "there" or "there" when indicating or describing a location. Always ask the person in advance if they would like help getting from one place to another. Ask for instructions on how she wants to be helped and where she wants to go. Some people prefer to be oriented vocally, others physically.
  • When you are asked to physically orient a visually impaired person, that person may hold your arm just above the elbow. This allows them to walk slightly behind you, following you as you turn or climb/descend steps.
  • When a person uses a service animal or guide dog to help them, do not distract the animal while working.
  • At presentations, meetings, and events, describe all images and diagrams that are displayed.
  • Ask visually impaired people if they would like to receive documents in an alternative format, Braille or large print. In some contexts where people have access to computers, visually impaired people may prefer electronic documents accessible via screen reader software (e.g. Word documents).

When working with people with intellectual disabilities:

People with developmental disabilities may have difficulty understanding, learning and retaining, as well as applying information to new situations. However, it is important to know that people with intellectual disabilities are able to learn new things and participate in our activities, by slightly changing the way we work.

  • Express yourself with short sentences addressing one point at a time.
  • Use everyday examples to explain and illustrate the points. For example, when discussing an upcoming medical visit, let the person know what steps they will need to take before and during the appointment.
  • Allow time for the person to answer your question or instruction before repeating it. If you need to repeat a question or point, do it only once. If that doesn't work, try rephrasing using other words.

Allow time for people with intellectual disabilities to ask questions.

  • Make sure that only one person speaks at a time, and that a person with an intellectual disability is not rushed by others to respond.
  • People with developmental disabilities may need more time to reflect on their decisions or discuss their options with someone they trust.
  • Identify quiet environments so you can converse and avoid any form of distraction.
  • Images can also be used to convey messages to people with intellectual disabilities — these are sometimes referred to as "simplified" documents.


When working with people with speech disabilities:

  • Allow more time to communicate with people with speech disabilities.
  • Don't be afraid to tell him "I don't understand". Ask the person to repeat themselves, then repeat after them to make sure you understand.
  • Don't try to finish a person's sentences — let them express themselves on their own.
  • Try asking questions that require a short answer or a yes/no gesture.

• If you have tried to understand a person by several means, to no avail, ask them if they agree to use a different mode of communication, such as writing or drawing.


It is better way to implement this learning module in groups of participants in order to stimulate interaction between caregivers on their reactions to all these tips.

Process: Just get them together, make them react, ask them for their answers and ask the following questions:

  • Do you have some examples of such situations?
  • Have you experienced an identical situation? If so, how did you react?



Caregivers need to be able to adapt their communication method to beneficiaries, and to take advantages of experienced knowledge on different situations.

This module is an interactive way to acquire knowledge how to adapt themselves to different situations.


Learning Outcomes

  • Ability to have a verbal and non-verbal communication with target groups and connect them effectively with others and external duties (routine paperwork, …).
  • Ability to understand and apply knowledge of human communication and language processes as they occur across various contexts, e.g., interpersonal, intrapersonal, small group, organisational, gender, family, intercultural communication, technologically
  • Ability to find the appropriate communication (verbal and non-verbal) with beneficiaries to create mutual trust.

Knowledge acquired

  • Learning the importance of non-verbal communication and learn how to adapt their communication methods to beneficiaries and their needs.

Skills acquired

  • Ability to detect non-verbal communication
  • Ability to communicate clearly, to have active listening skills, to simplify information and improve their core skills.

Competences acquired

  • Ability to pay attention of understanding of beneficiaries. Adapt the communication methods in a creative and appropriate way to express meaning.
  • Ability to share professional and personal experience.