Engaging with people who have difficulty communicating can take time and may result in misunderstandings which can cost a lot in terms of time and cost and emotion for all involved. Research and anecdotal evidence have both shown that using Talking Mats is efficient and cost effective in that staff or carers can get better quantity and quality of communication with the people they work in a shorter time with than with usual methods of communication. The average time for someone trained in Talking Mats to have a Talking Mats conversation is 15 minutes, although some people may choose to talk for longer.
In addition, staff often rely on relatives to gather information about a person’s needs and preferences. The process of gathering that information can be protracted owing to availability of family members and, because it is second-hand, is liable to misinterpretations. This in turn can lead to frustrations which can damage relationships, result in poor care and cost time.
At a practical level, the feedback from staff has been that the wipe clean, ready-made Talking Mats symbol sets give immediate access to a practical communication tool. Staff compared this favourably with the time taken to source images on-line, print them out, cut them up and develop them to a standard that is infection control compliant.
The Talking Mats team have invested their time and skills over several years to develop topics which are based on sound research. For example the Health and Well-being Resources is based on the World Health Organisation ICF, the Children and People’s Resource is based both on WHO-ICFCY and GIRFEC. The Eating and Drinking Resource has been co-produced with people with eating and drinking difficulties and a range of different professionals. The Talking Mats symbols have been carefully designed to represent both concrete and abstract topics
In addition sending staff on a Talking Mats training course results in a work force which is effectively trained in communicating with a wide range of people as well as having a bespoke communication tool. Using Talking Mats is efficient for organisations both in terms of time and costs.