Improving communication, improving lives
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What an exciting week!

On Tuesday Sally Boa joined the Team in a more permanent role as our Senior Associate. She will be working with us for 2 days a week and will allow us to develop some of the new ideas we are planning including new resources, new consultancy and new research. She has already brought fresh insights and excitement to the office.

On Wednesday we interviewed for the companies to develop new symbols for us and also the digital version of Talking Mats for tablet devices. We are honoured to have such high quality applicants.

On Thursday Lois and I were training staff from Aberdeenshire Council Social Services. We had a great day with a very positive and enthusiastic group of participants – loads of new ideas.

Also on Thursday we were thrilled to hear that Talking Mats has won the Award for the Best Start-up Social Enterprise in Scotland! This means lots of new support and connections and also puts us through to the UK finals in London on 12th November. Our whole team plan to attend the official ceremony at the Scottish Parliament on 13th November to celebrate.

NHS Education Scotland Allied Health Profession (AHP) education strategy 2011-14 recognised that there needs to be a real and sustained emphasis on making communication skills even better. As part of that they were keen to support staff to reflect and improve their skills. Working through Communication Forum Scotland, Capability Scotland and Talking Mats were tasked with working with people who had communication difficulties to develop a resource that would impact on staff, allow for reflection, personal  and clinical development . So on a wet and wild January day in 2012 the group was formed and over the next 2 months, through 3 workshops this diverse group of 20 people shared their ideas for how they want to be treated by health staff . These ideas were turned into 10 visions and then they told stories of the experiences in health settings some good, some not so good and some dreadful. We employed a film maker to capture these stories, developed some questions and collected some useful web resources to signpost people to. The web resource is a powerful tool for anyone wanting to think about the impact of communication in health interactions.  As one recent user of the resource said   ‘I applaud all the individuals who have so kindly taken the time to share their experiences of how communication difficulties impact on everyday life.   The extent of isolation,  lack of respect and sheer frustration is palpable from their reflection of their experiences, as is their determination to positively use these experiences to educate other people in the practicalities of good communication to prevent any other individuals with communication difficulties from suffering.’ So please use the resource to support your work  . The only thing we would ask is that you give us feedback by filling in the evaluation form

Yesterday Lois attended a ‘Long Term Conditions Alliance’ event in Glasgow where she highlighted the fact that many people with a range of long term conditions need communication support to self manage their conditions. She pointed people to the excellent NES funded resource Making Communication Even Better.

Yesterday morning Joan attended a 3 hour Twitter course so we are getting geared up to embrace it!!

This morning we were notified that we are through to the final of the Scottish Enterprise awards for the best start-up Social Enterprise.

This afternoon we met with the Public Health Minister, Michael Matheson, at the Scottish Parliament.  We had a very useful meeting where we explained and discussed our work. The Minister was particularly interested in the way Talking Mats could be used in early intervention across a range of conditions.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring??….

Well … the next day brought news that we have been voted as finalists in the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2012.  We must be doing something right