On the 17th April we held a seminar exploring the innovative work being done to support young people with communication needs within justice and mental health settings in both New Zealand and Scotland Read about the morning in our first blog Talking Trouble, New Zealand kindly gave a gift to all delegates of their fantastic Top Tip cards shown in the photo . You can download your own set here
The afternoon session continued the underlying theme that communication support needs are often hidden and many looked after children have support needs that remain unidentified.
Dr Ann Clark from Queen Margaret University presented her research findings looking at Panel members’ and Children’s Reporters’ perspectives on communication in Hearings. Her informative presentation highlighted the need and desire for more training on Speech, Language and Communication Needs. The conclusion was that it is better to assume ALL children who are attending a Hearing have additional support needs, whether or not they have a diagnosis of Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) and Social Work support is also essential in achieving positive outcomes for Looked After Children. SLCN in Hearings April 2018
Our interactive session asked participants to reflect on the information presented during the day and to think about opportunities to improve practice in supporting communication as well as the barriers faced. The main themes that emerged from the barriers were:
- Identifying Speech, Language and Communication Needs in children and young people
- Constraints within Speech and Language therapy services
- Lack of education and training – the word “communication” because practitioners think they know about it when in fact there is a large knowledge gap
- Routes to services can be either Offending or Mental Health pathway
- The balance of power and control in relationships between the practitioner and the person with SLCNs – how committed are we to put genuine inclusive communication approaches in place.
Identify the barriers helps to inform the opportunities and the themes emerging were:
- Some good collaborative practice is happening already and the impact of working together is proven in research – we need to extend this further.
- Joint training sessions – good visual and other communication supports
- SLT have a vital role going forward
- We have a real opportunity at the moment to effect real change in a legislative context with recent Government policy
Kim Harley Kean, Head of the Royal College of Speech and language therapy Scotland office concluded the day and injected a great sense of impetus going forward. She asked 2 key questions:
Q: Is communication support and equality an issue in justice and care services?
Q: Do we want to do something about that?
Having responded with a unanimous YES she helped us to see the potential we have for change. It was obvious from the day that collaboration is vital and the event demonstrated how many different professions and organisations want to do something about the issues. We can be more effective if we do this collectively, even across continents!
The majority of participants felt we should use the event to establish a collaborative network. The key purposes would be to:
- Market – get message out there – tell more people – politicians, government and public – about Speech Language and Communication in Criminal Justice Settings explaining how SLT and Talking Mats have a vital role.
- Share stories, gather evidence.
- Facilitate enriching conversations between practitioners, for example, about aptitudes and approaches needed to negotiate communication behaviour change among professionals as well as people with SLCN…
If you would like to join the network and help to influence change please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to add your name to the youth justice mailing list.
Addressing the communication needs of people in youth justice is key to improving lives. The lack of attention to this is costly. On the 17th of April, we organised a seminar to look at the underlying issues and share good practice.
We were delighted with the collaborative mix of people attending. We had representatives from: the Scottish government, the NHS; Third sector organisations working in youth justice, the police, social workers, professional bodies, universities and social work.
Our thanks to Professor Richard Simpson for chairing the day and setting the tone by emphasising from the start that understanding communication is key to improving service delivery. Following his introduction a series of excellent and stimulating presentations took place creating a fusion of ideas and practice from Scotland and New Zealand.
- Kim Hartley Kean, head of the Royal College of Speech and language therapy Scotland office highlighted the current position in Scotland
- Sally Kedge and Alayne Mckee described the approach adopted by their organisation Talking Trouble in New Zealand.
- Jane Macer the therapeutic service co-ordinator from Starley Hall Fife described an whole system approach to embedding good communication practice within an organisation
- Yvonne McKeown and Sandra Polding Speech and Language Therapists working with young people in a NHS inpatient psychiatric unit in Glasgow shared some case examples.
In different ways the speakers brought up very similar themes:
- Communication can be treated glibly. There is a lack of understanding of what communication difficulties are and of the impact that they have on the lives of young people. These difficulties are often hidden and take time to identify. Lack of identification can have a huge impact on the future lives of young people.
- Finding ways to hear the young person’s voice is key both for the young person but also for organisations in order to deliver appropriate and effective care.
- Recognition of the intergenerational cycle and the importance of getting care and support correct so we break patterns and enable change.
- Providing collaborative solutions and understanding the breadth of communication will help services improve. However, given services often don’t know what they don’t know in terms of the impact of communication difficulties we have to find ways to express those solutions in language that those services can relate to and understand. Listening to organisations and exploring their processes by analysing the communicative demands of each stage can be a helpful way to start.
- Moving forward it is important to knock on open doors i.e. work with people who are receptive to recognising the impact of communication difficulties on young people and their lives but also find the strategic influencers who are sympathetic, in the words of our New Zealand colleagues ‘the aunts and uncles in the field’ who can help to promote the issue and raise awareness at a National level.
- You can’t explore the issue of trauma and adverse childhood experiences without certain precursor, building blocks being in place. This takes time and requires a constancy of approach.
- The importance of inclusive, visual tools becoming common place so that they are not used in isolation and in a vacuum.
- The challenge of supporting and nurturing a young person’s inner voice when they have significant difficulties with language.
- Lack of understanding of communication difficulties may lead to services responding to internalized behaviours that can lead to a fork in life; one way can send the young person down a route of offending behaviour services and the other mental health services.
- The solutions lie in partnership and collaboration between professions and services.
There were lots of creative ways of using Talking Mats that were shared. A couple of examples that stand out were
- Using Talking Mats with social workers to help them unpick what they already know about a young person’s language and communication. This approach helped them think about all the different aspects that contribute to communication and where the young person’s strengths and weaknesses lay e.g. non verbal communication , humour , word finding , understanding complex information, understanding simple information etc .
- Using Talking Mats to support a psychiatric assessment of a young person. One person used his Talking Mat to say he was hearing voices something he was unable to disclose verbally. In this case this enabled an accurate mental state assessment and non-custodial sentence.
I will leave the last word to a young man living in an inpatient unit to support his mental health, his words about communication difficulties are ‘They make you more vulnerable when bad stuff happens’ how true that is and this is why it is important we work together to improve services .
Next steps The community justice network met in the afternoon and were challenged to think about the opportunities and barriers in developing services – read the for blog that covers the afternoon ……… If you missed the seminar and want to join a multiagency network to discuss this and help take this forward in Scotland then please let us know .
Click to read the excellent presentations from the seminar
- Talking Mats presentation 17 April 2018 Sally Kedge Alayne McKee TTANZ final
- TM seminar 04-18
- Talking Mats & Justice CEN April 2018 Draft
Talking Mats in Germany is being extended by one of our trainers Professor Norina Lauer. Here she describes two of her current interesting projects and we look forward to reading her findings.
The German version of the Talking Mats app will now be tested in two more projects in the west of Germany. As the communication symbols were developed for English-speaking clients six German SLT students of the Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen (han) in the Netherlands want to find out if the words and symbols fit to German clients and their cultural background. Because of cultural differences between Scotland and Germany it is necessary not only to adapt the language but also check the icons.
One of the projects will be conducted with children between the ages of 8 and 10 years. The children will be asked to classify the symbols from their age-group. The question will be whether the symbols and words are relevant for the situation of German children. If not, they will be asked for possible alternatives.
The other project focuses on adults. One group of people with aphasia and one group of healthy persons will be tested. Every tested person scores the 57 icons concerning their correspondence with the words written down below by using a scale from 0 to 3. In addition, possible graphic alternatives will be enquired and collected. The two groups of adults will be used to determine if there is a significant difference between the obtained results from each group.
Our next train the trainer course is in 2 weeks and we’re looking forward to welcoming people from a range of professions and a range of places- New Zealand, Japan, England and Fife!
Becoming a trainer for Talking Mats means the staff member can offer Foundation training within their organisation or partnership. This ensures that the standard of the communication and thinking tool is maintained and sustainability of its use is supported. It is a positive investment for organisations in person -centred practise.
The trainers are provided with resources for delivering the Foundation course and their licence is renewed annually .
Comments from people who attend include:
Practical approach to training made it easy to try out and learn from ‘doing’
A wonderful inspiring course- really looking forward to continuing to work as part of the TM team
Really enjoyed the training. Learnt a lot not just about my use of TM but also just about myself as a presenter and communication
If you’ve attended a Foundation course and would like to become a trainer, our next course is in June. You can find out more details on our webiste or on this link 20180621 Accredited Training flier Jun 2018