Challenges in the communication between 'communication vulnerable' people and their social environment: An exploratory qualitative study

Steffy E. A. Stans*, Ruth Dalemans, Luc de Witte, Anna Beurskens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Communication vulnerable people are often unable to communicate effectively within their social environment, hindering client-centered care and participation in daily life. This study aims to explore the experiences of communication and the factors that influence this in long term care settings. Methods: A qualitative study using the critical incident method. Communication vulnerable clients and people within their immediate environment were interviewed about their communication experiences. Results: Thirty-nine individuals in three settings participated in the interviews, of which 14 were clients. Specific challenges in communication were presented in different relationships. The main influencing factors in the communication between clients and professionals were: effort put into improving the communication, knowledge of the professional, augmentative and alternative communication, time for. communication and the influence and power of the client. Conclusion: Communication vulnerable people and people within their immediate environment face daily challenges in communicating with each other. In particular, communication among clients, can be very difficult. Augmentative and alternative communication tools are only rarely used. Practice implications: Professionals need to develop adequate knowledge and skills to improve their communication. Also, more attention should be focussed on use of AAC, communication between professionals and family members, and support in the communication among clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-312
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Communication
  • Long term care
  • Communication vulnerable people
  • Communication difficulties

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