Adults With Communication Disabilities Face Healthcare Obstacles
This article was reviewed by Stephanie F, M.S.
Adults with communication disabilities struggle to access quality health care-significantly more than typical peers. How can we get them needed health information and services?
This issue brings to light the overarching difficulties many patients with Speech-Language difficulties have navigating the health care system regardless of specialty or service needed. article details that many of these individuals additionally experience co-morbidities that further complicate their health experience and require a holistic approach to health care. This is particularly pertinent in a home health care environment such as ours where it is essential to communicate with various stakeholders in order to ensure the patient’s plan is carried out and that all parties can work together to promote the patient’s overall health.
For these reasons, it is important that not only SLPs, but also PTs, OTs, Social Workers, PCPs, insurance companies, and other health parties understand the disparity that occurs for patients with Speech-Language difficulties. These patients may not yet have the skills to advocate for themselves when decisions must be made about their care.
It is therefore the responsibility of other providers to ensure the patient is thoroughly involved in their care. However, this has been found to be falling short of expectations. “A 2015 study led by one of the authors of this article (Megan Morris) findings revealed that physicians rarely used supportive communication strategies that speech-language pathologists commonly train communication partners to use. Across 25 recorded visits, no physician wrote down key words while speaking, only one used a visual aid, and physicians inconsistently used meaningful gestures, despite all of the patients reporting benefits of these strategies” (Morris, 2019).
Part of this problem can be resolved by simple education for providers as to how they can modify their behavior in order to reduce the amount of obstacles these patients face. Outreach does a great job at doing just this and should keep this a priority as we provide holistic care to our patients.