Module 2: Communicating with a person with disability

Involving family members and support people

Determining who are the right people to be at a meeting is an essential part of the planning process.  Ask the person being interviewed who, if anyone, he or she would like to be present.

  • Family and friends can sometimes help with the conversation and assist in interpreting what the person has to say. However, sometimes family and friends can also interject or contradict what the person has said.
  • Sometimes the person might defer to their family and friends, and not speak up for himself.
  • Sometimes the person might be scared to speak up with other people in the room.

You need to consider all these points to achieve a good balance between knowing as much about the person as possible and making sure the person’s thoughts and perspectives are heard.

It is useful to have meetings with the person on their own as well as meetings which include those who know the person well to see if there are any differences in what is being said. If there are differences, it is important to work with the person to make sure you know what his or her perspective is.

When meeting with people alone it is useful to reassure them that information will not be shared with caregivers or service providers unless requested e.g. “What you tell me is private”, “I won’t tell (name caregivers) what you say”. “This is your private information. You choose who you want to tell”