We are very grateful to Elena Maxheimer, a Speech and Language Therapy student from Germany, for sending us this blog of a summary of her thesis which examined the use of the German Digital Talking Mats with people with aphasia.
In May 2018 I did my bachelor thesis on the German version of the Talking Mats app. Under the consultation of Prof. Dr. Norina Lauer, I delivered two workshops for eight people with aphasia. In these workshops the participants practiced doing Talking Mats and afterwards they evaluated the app by filling out a short questionnaire and taking part in a focus group in which they discussed the app’s content and practical use.
The participants generally rated the app as useful for people with aphasia and in particular, the topics, pictures and terms were rated as suitable for people with aphasia. The two most chosen topics were Health and Communication. Some aspects were difficult for people with aphasia. Some of the group had problems in choosing a suitable scale, writing on an empty card or writing down comments.
Suggestions for modification were
– Showing two sessions of Talking Mats parallel to have a better comparison
– Using the app on the smartphone – however the screen on a smartphone is too small to be manageable
– Saving the login data, so you don’t have to login every time you use the app
– One older participant suggested additional topics about specific diseases such as diabetes
– Another younger participant wanted more about sex, feelings, sympathy and love.
For other information about Talking Mats in Germany click here
Also Joan Murphy and Norina Lauer will be running a Talking Mats workshop in Cologne on May 5th and 6th 2019
Talking Mats received funding from The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland to look at how using the Digital Talking Mats can help people with long term conditions, including dementia, to manage their health and well-being and to recognise their own strengths and abilities. We also hoped that participants would be able to have more control over their lives and have improved communication with families and professionals.
11 people living with dementia and their partners were involved in the project. Each participant had a tablet device and was given a personal digital Talking Mats licence which gave them access to 13 topics in the Talking Mats Health and Well-being resource. We visited each participant at home, taught them how to use it and asked them to complete at least 1 digital Talking Mat per week for 6 weeks on any topic they wished. The design of the digital Talking Mat allowed them to email their mats directly to us. We visited each participant a second time to discuss how easy it was to use the digital Talking Mats and their views on their completed mats. We asked those who wished to, to continue sending us completed mats beyond the initial 6 weeks and we visited them again in 6 months to discuss how they were managing.
In total we received 94 digital mats across all 13 topics from the participants living with dementia who reported that the use of the Digital Talking Mats during this project gave them a better understanding of their own individual health and social care needs.
A woman with dementia said ‘It (Health mat ) made me realise things are not so bad and made me think I will continue with my exercise classes, carry on walking, socialising and eating well’
As well as helping participants self-manage their lives, an unexpected outcome of this project was that many people found that using the Digital Talking Mats helped them see the positive things in their life and not just the negative. It also highlighted that despite having a deteriorating illness, things were not getting worse.
The following are some of the comments we received throughout the project.
• It helps me sort out my thoughts – very useful
• I get so much out of the process
• I come up with insights which might help me in the future
• I can now talk to (my wife) in a way I couldn’t before
• I’m more relaxed now
• I come up with niggly health things that my partner didn’t know
‘It made me realise things are not so bad’.
If you know of anyone living with dementia would like to obtain the Digital Talking Mats please fill in the attached Personal Digital Licence 161117 DTM personal licence form with explanation and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org