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Asking people with Learning Disability about their lives

It is important that we ask people with learning disability about their lives and enable them to raise any concerns. Over the past couple of years we have been developing a Talking Mat called Keeping Safe.  It is a resource that gives people time to think about various aspects of their lives, and express how it is going for them.

234 staff in different parts of Scotland now have the resource and have been trained to use it. Feedback includes that using the Keeping  Safe resource can improve the quality of communication for both the person with a learning disability and the staff member in the following ways :

  • Staff frequently commented that using the Mats revealed things they had not known previously;

‘It gave so much information which we did not expect. It will assist in Adult Support and Protection feedback. It gave him his own say in things.’

‘allowed needs to be identified that I would not have thought to ask about,  such as the smoking and taking drugs.’

  • It enabled staff have a conversation about more sensitive and or difficult issues;

‘Usually when she expresses her feelings she can get either upset or angry. She did not get upset or angry at any point through doing the Talking Mats, although the subject and things she was saying was at times difficult issues.’

‘A has good communication skills but as we had a sensitive issue (personal care) to discuss I felt that a talking mat would allow us to explore this.’

  • It also helped the thinker ( the thinker is the person doing the mat ) to express their thoughts clearly

‘allowed this person to disclose things that they were struggling to disclose verbally.’

  • It helped with memory difficulties and kept the thinker focused on the topic

‘It  helps with memory and attention as she has something visual to keep her focused.’

  • The information gained reflected the thinker’s view and not the views of those around them

 ‘This resource gave this gentleman the power to say exactly what he was thinking and not what he thought someone wanted to hear.’

  • There was a lot of positive feedback on using the resource from people with learning disabilities

I adore this. The mats really helped me speak about my feelings.’

  • It was a quick way to get information. Initially many staff thought using the resource would take too much time but in fact were surprised to find how much information they got in a short space of time.

The stories gathered from using the resource are powerful and a final report is being prepared which will be launched at a seminar  on the 19th May during learning disability week . There are still some spaces on the seminar so if you would like to attend please contact .

We are delighted that the Scottish Government is funding a further round of Keeping Safe Talking Mats training.  If you work with adults with learning disability in Scotland, and would like to apply to a Keeping Safe Talking Mats  training course then please email us for dates and the application form.