Communication in first aid is imperative to the health and safety of every patient you work with. The more diverse populations that you can communicate with, the better you are able to perform these tasks in an optimal manner. Here are three simple things you can learn to better communicate with a wider variety of people.
The average patient doesn’t know much medical terminology. This is especially true if you’re working with children. Learn how to explain things simply. Think back to the early stages of learning basic first aid where you were likely looking up terms just to understand the terminology. If you can explain what’s going on to a small child, you can make anyone understand on their level. This will make everyone calm and feel more at ease if they can simply understand what you’re doing and why. Panic can ensue when a patient feels like they’re in the dark.
Basic Medical Sign Language
American Sign language is possibly the most underrepresented language in the country. There is a large deaf community that often struggles in these medical environments as quickly getting an interpreter can sometimes be difficult. It may not be realistic for everyone to learn an entirely new language, but there are things you can do to help. Learning medical ASL drastically improves communication for deaf individuals, even if it is just things as simple as the alphabet. This allows for fingerspelling which might be slightly more time consuming but can help with basic communication needs. The more signs that you learn, the easier these interactions will get. Consider the words you need most and slowly add them to your repertoire of signs. Things like pain, allergy, and numbers from 1–10 for the pain scale are great choices. “I’m learning to sign” or “sign slower” are important phrases so the patient knows where you’re at with the language. In addition to the deaf community, this will help with the non-verbal autism population as they are often learning ASL for communication purposes.
Tips for Interacting with People with Autism
Cases of autism are continually rising. The spectrum is broad, so there is no “one size fits all” autism language. Some autistic can easily communicate verbally, and others are nonverbal or have a hard time communicating verbally. However, one main thing to keep in mind when working with an individual with autism is tone. Autism is a processing disorder and they are easily overstimulated, which can cause meltdowns. The louder and busier things get, the more likely you are to experience one of these meltdowns which will make it near impossible to administer first aid to the individual. Keep calm, use a soothing tone, and explain everything simply as you go. Startling the individual with autism can be a mistake that takes longer than you can spare to recover from.
There are all kinds of things you can do to improve communication when you work in first aid or any medical field. Think about situations where you have felt you needed different communication skills and try to learn what you feel is most relevant to the community that you serve. Individuals with hearing loss and autism are a great start as they are present in every community. Improve your overall communication skills to enhance your first aid skills as a whole.