Category Archives: App

Self-management for people with long term conditions

DTM Jean and David

Self-management for people with long term conditions (LTC) is now a key government strategy to encourage people to take responsibility for their own health, behaviour and well-being. Talking Mats received funding from The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland to look how using the Digital Talking Mats (DTM) can help people with LTCs to manage their health and well-being and to recognise their own strengths and abilities.

The overall aim of our project was to empower people with different long term conditions, to manage their own health and well-being. Through using Digital Talking Mats (DTM) we hoped that participants would be able to have more control over their lives and have improved communication with families and professionals.

There were a total of 28 participants in this project living with one of three different long term health conditions – stroke, dementia and learning disability. Each participant had access to a tablet device and was given a personal DTM licence which gave them access to 13 topics in the Talking Mats Health and Well-being resource. We visited each participant at home and taught them how to use it and asked them to complete and send us at least 1 digital 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 the researchers. We visited each participant a second time to discuss on 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. We visited them again in 6 months to discuss how they were managing.
15 participants completed all 6 mats and 12 participants continued to complete mats over the length of the project. Participants completed 235 digital mats across all 13 topics

There were 3 particularly significant findings

1. At 18 months the participants living with dementia actually felt their well-being had improved, despite dementia being a progressive illness.
2. For the participants living with stroke the results were even more striking as 95% felt things were going well at the end of the project in comparison with 47% at the beginning.
3. At the end of the project the percentage of people with learning disability who felt things were not going well had reduced from 19% to 10%. Furthermore the percentage of people indicating that they were not sure about their views had increased from 27% to 42%. There can be a tendency for people with learning disability when using Talking Mats, to express their views at either end of the mat and to rarely use the mid- point. However being able to use the unsure mid- point is noteworthy as it indicates that the participants in the project realised that they could express their views not only as black or white but could indicate that they were unsure. This awareness opens up the potential for people to express views more thoughtfully with opportunities for further exploration.

Here are three examples of how using the DTM supported people to self-manage situations in their lives. Click on image to enlarge.

DTM stories

As well as helping participants self-manage their long term conditions, an unexpected outcome of this project is that many people found that using the DTM helped them see the positive things in their life and not just the negative. It also highlighted that despite having a long term condition and, for many also a deteriorating one, that things were not getting worse.

Click here for full report including 6,12 and 18 month reports to the funders  20180717 Alliance full report

Click here for the summary report 20180717 Alliance Final Short Report

Click here for a video link of 2 participants

Listening to our customers

listening is a patient safety issue

We are always very grateful for comments and suggestions about our resources, so have been listening to our customers and working to upgrade the Talking Mats Health and Well-being resource and the 4 digital resources.

There are several additions which apply to both the original and the digital versions of Health and Well-being.

  • Originally we had asked our artist not to put clothes on the characters to try to make them culturally neutral but following a number of comments – (in particular the bare hairdresser who caused much amusement!) – our artist has added clothes on those symbols where the character was obviously naked.

hairdresser

  • Next we have included additional relevant symbols and altered others to make the resource more comprehensive.

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Our App developer has also been working to incorporate all of the above features into the digital version. He has included a more comprehensive list of wording for the top scale. (Click on the image to enlarge)

top scales
He has also added a feature which lets you toggle the wording for the top scale on and off; he has sorted the split words under the symbols and he has improved how the final record of the Talking Mats is displayed in the email sent.

Finally we are delighted to announce that our 4 main Talking Mats resources have been developed in German for the Digital version in collaboration with Professor Norina Lauer at the University of Idstein. All 4 resources – Health and Well-being, Children and Young People, Eating and Drinking and Social Care will all be available on the App by clicking on the German flag in the opening page.

The German version is not available in the original hard copy but you can order the resources with no words to allow you to add your own.

The upgrades to the digital will happen automatically in the next few weeks at no extra cost and if you would like the hard copy sets to upgrade your original resources, you can order them from us at a reduced cost. 2017-18 Additional Symbols Post Training Order form

Thanks again for your feedback – keep the comments coming!

Adding your own images to the Digital Talking Mats

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We have received a number of requests to create a guide to adding your own images and creating submats with Digital Talking Mats and this blog will show you how.

One of the features of Talking Mats is that we have developed a number of different symbol resources based on our research and clinical practice which cover a wide range of topics.
However, sometimes you may want to personalise what is being communicated about by adding your own images. You may also want to create a submat to explore an existing topic in more detail or you may want to create a completely new topic. In our training courses we explain how to do this when using the original Talking Mats.

However more and more people are now using the digital version of Talking Mats. In a previous blog we described how to add your own photos to the Digital Talking Mats.

We have now made a guide to help those who have the digital version to both add their own images and to create a submat with an example of a sub-mat with the topic “office”.

Download the following pdf to find out how to do it. dtm-a-guide-how-to-add-photos

We would love to hear any stories about making your own digital submats

Work with adults ? Top 10 Talking Mats blogs

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What are the top 10 blogs for using Talking Mats with adults? Over the years we have posted lots of blogs on different aspects of our framework . If you are working with adults with communication disability these blogs maybe particularly helpful

  1. Where is the best place to start using the Talking Mats health and well-being resource? 
  2. A blog from Denmark which highlights the effectiveness of using Talking Mats with people with dementia
  3. Goal setting with a woman with Multiple sclerosis  
  4. Using the  app with someone with aphasia 
  5. The development of a resource to help people with learning disability raise concerns 
  6. How can Talking Mats support Capacity to make decisions
  7.  Involving  people in their decisions about eating and drinking 
  8. Thoughts on using Talking Mats with people with dementia to explore mealtimes 
  9. Using Talking Mats with someone with a learning disability and dementia
  10. Use  in a rehab setting in South Africa 

If you want to explore our  resource and training more  please visit our shop

Building the Digital Talking Mats

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We are delighted that Nick Stewart, Director, Software and Products with Arum Systems, the IT Consultancy who have built the Digital Talking Mats has chosen TM as his favourite project for a case study.

AAC  for all

Here is an extract from his case study describing the Challenge and Process of working with Talking Mats.

 The Challenge
The challenge was taking the existing physical Talking Mats tool and building a digital application suitable for multiple platforms, while maintaining the core ethos of the tool. A significant amount of academic research went into creating the physical product and those principles had to be present in a digital version. The applications had to be extremely intuitive to use and enable better conversations for people with communication difficulties.
The aim was to create 3 digital versions; a browser based version for laptop users and a tablet version for iPad users and Android users. Each application would connect to a cloud server, allowing users to log in from any device, and the tablet versions would allow offline working through syncing with the cloud when a connection was available. There was a requirement to set up a multi-tiered subscription based user account system to match the intended charging model for the digital app.
Our Process
Arum’s approach was to totally immerse ourselves in the Talking Mats business to understand their goals, ethos and objectives. We took time to learn how the Talking Mats ecosystem worked and how they wanted to engage with their customers. By applying our 3D Methodology we were able to break down the deliverables into phases allowing the key building blocks to be delivered first. This also allowed the best use of budget and reduced the time to market the new product.

To read the full case study click here Arum Talking Mats Case Study