Improving communication, improving lives
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It was great to meet with Nikki Steiner, Principal Speech and Language Therapist with Central London Community Health Care Trust (CLCH), to evaluate the work that was commissioned by CLCH. The project started in the spring of 2016 and aimed to support a person-centred and inclusive approach to health planning and intervention using the Talking Mats framework.

Those words ‘person-centred’ and ‘inclusive’ are easy to say but much harder to implement. Our approach was threefold:

  1. We provided 100 staff with the Talking Mats resources to use in their practice (both the original and digital versions).
  2.  We ran 3 Enhanced Talking Mats training courses for those staff which involved two days training. The first day introduced the framework and built staff confidence in using the resource. The second day supported staff to reflect on their use of the Talking Mats in their work setting, and allowed them to think creatively about further application and development.
  3. To sustain the capacity of CLCH to continue with the project we trained three accredited trainers. The plan is they will continue to build staff skills and training on an on-going basis and provide local leadership and expertise.

The evaluation framework that we are using looks at impact of this investment using the Kirkpatrick model of evaluation. This allowed us to evaluate:

  1. Participants’ reaction to the training,
  2. Participants’ learning – did they increase their knowledge skills and learning?
  3. Transfer and application – did they apply their learning to the workplace?
  4. Result – this was based on the impact that using the Talking Mats skills and resources had on the lives of people with communication disability

We had different measurements for each part of the model and these ranged from course feedback, a quiz, personal reflection and stories from people with communication difficulties. It is these that we are in the process of analysing so watch this space for the final report. Nikky said ‘This is such an exciting project that impacts on all the different client groups that we support’.

If you would like to discuss implementing Talking Mats at an organisational level then have a look at this link – Organisational Training

Many thanks to Nicola Lewis from London who has sent us this powerful blog. She has 2 roles – one as a Registered Intermediary with adults with learning disabilities and the other as a family mediator working with children.

I started work as an intermediary, assisting vulnerable people to communicate their evidence to the police and in court. I work with adults with a mild to moderate learning disabilities or mental health issues and with children. The Talking Mats tool has proved invaluable, initially as a rapport building exercise which enables me to build a connection with the person. At the same time I can assess their communication in an informal way. I notice that it is often a relief for those who don’t want to talk as they can just engage in moving the pictures around, without having to make eye contact or without having to speak.They do often start chatting, in spite of themselves as there are not many people who don’t like to talk about their likes, dislikes  and preferences and to be heard about what is important to them. I use active listening: reflecting back what they say, summarising, reframing and a touch of humour if appropriate to build a connection, using the mat. When they see me the next time, they often remember me in connection with the Talking Mat:”oh yeah, we did that picture thing!”


 I also work as a family mediator and have a specialist qualification enabling me to meet with the children of the family to discuss their wishes and feelings. Again, the Talking Mats tool is the first thing out of my bag and on the table. After working through likes and dislikes in a natural and informal way, I can then use the cards with the children and ask about “your family”, “where you live” etc to find out about how they are managing in a divorce situation and what they might want their parents to know about their feelings. Many mediators will only meet with older children. The Talking Mats tool has given me access to the thoughts of those as young as 5. They are at ease with me and there is a level of trust that did not exist when they entered the room.I have had 100% positive feedback from these meetings as a result.


Thanks for developing this amazing tool. It is incredibly useful to me in both my roles.

Please send us any other stories you would like to share

Thanks to Gill Pearl for sending us this information about an international conference for people with aphasia.

Where:  Warwick Conference Centre, Coventry, England

When:  Sunday 5 and Monday 6 March, 2017


Families, friends, aphasia and stroke organisations, and health professionals are also invited. People with aphasia have planned the conference and will chair the sessions.

The information will be presented in a way that is easier for people with aphasia.  There will be support from therapists and students to help people to join in.

The following themes will be discussed

  •  technology and aphasia, learn and have a go
  • increasing awareness of aphasia, and using social media
  • sharing what’s happening about aphasia around the world
  • research
  • support for carers of people with aphasia
  • aphasia and the arts.

There will be an exhibition of products relevant for people living with aphasia

Who_We_AreThis is a wonderful opportunity to

  • Do something new, develop confidence, be inspired
  • Learn from each other and share ideas
  • Find out about new services and ways to help
  • Meet people with aphasia from around the world!


If you want to find out more, contact Gill or Denise at

We are delighted to be travelling to Australia and New Zealand in May 17 and look forward to the opportunities the trip gives us to discuss Talking Mats in these countries.

Firstly, we are pleased to have been invited over to Australia to be involved in the Agosci Communication Conference in Melbourne from the 18-21 May 2017. Agosci is an inclusive organisation that supports the participation of all people with complex communication needs. The theme of this conference asks participants to involve people with complex communication needs in all aspects of life to create a more welcoming society for people with communication support needs.

Lois and Nicki will be attending for Talking Mats and their involvement at the conference includes

  • A one day pre – Agosci conference Foundation training for professionals in Melbourne
  • 2 presentations – one on the potential use of Talking Mats in National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and one on our current  Keeping Safe project
  • A poster on using Talking Mats in Eating and Drinking
  • A stand which will run throughout the conference and where we can and meet and chat to delegates

In addition prior to the conference we are running

  • A one day Foundation training in Sydney for Hammond Care

New Zealand

Plus we are really pleased to have linked with the Talk Link trust in New Zealand and will be visiting both Christchurch and Auckland and running foundation courses in both those places. New Zealand can be proud of their world record of electing Robert Martin in June 2016  to become the first person with an intellectual disability to serve on the UN committee dealing with people with disabilities. It feels a privilege going to a country which is providing such leadership in self-determination.

Train the trainers     

We fly back to Melbourne and run a two day Accredited Training in St Kilda’s Melbourne for Australian and New Zealand professionals previously trained in the use of Talking Mats via our online course. This course will allow them to train others within their respective organisations. By providing our accredited training and ‘training the trainers’ we are facilitating the increased use of Talking Mats in Australia and New Zealand . This increases professional skills, improves the quality of the service being provided and most importantly improves the quality of life of the person with the communication difficulty by assisting them to express their views.

So a busy schedule but exciting and we hope to have some time off to relax and enjoy new sites and a different culture. There will be more blogs to follow……… Plus if anyone has any top tips for coping with long distance flights we would like you to share them!