Category Archives: App

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.

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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

EHC Plans with the Talking Mats app

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Sophie Mitchell SLT describes how she supported her students to develop their EHC Plans with the Talking Mats app .

In September 2014 our  team and I were asked to facilitate the production of Education and Health Care plans for the Year 14 students at the Secondary Special School (for adolescents with complex, profound and multiple learning difficulties) where we  are based. As Speech and Language therapists we were asked to work with the students to gain their view on what they would like to be detailed in their plan and also what their aspirations were for their future. We wanted to ensure the production of these plans were as client centred as possible so therefore decided to use the Talking Mats App on the Ipad using the Health and Wellbeing resource.  This resource proved invaluable when working with our students. Not only were our students highly motivated to participate in the sessions due to the Ipad being used, talking mats empowered them to make meaningful decisions about their future, communicate any areas where they would like further support and discuss likes and dislikes. The impact on our students became clear when working with one 19 year old student. Although he did not have any spontaneous expressive language and would only echo things said by others, during a Talking Mats sessions when talking about his likes and dislikes, he appeared to be placing most items under ‘dislike’.  As the session went on the student started to appear agitated, then started pointing towards ‘like’ although no symbol was presented. Suddenly the student said ‘Garden’, still pointing towards the ‘like’. When presented with a gardening symbol he soon placed this under ‘like’. This information was then presented in his plan and his college were instructed to explore opportunities for this student to develop his gardening skills. For all students this information was then used to not only create their Education and Health Care plan but also expand and explore areas they were highly motivated by while still at School and also identify possible work placements for the future.  Furthermore the School invested in Talking mats training to ensure this approach is used throughout each academic year and school staff are skilled to use Talking Mats as each student starts their assessment for their Education and Health Care plan.

We would like to thank Sophie who is from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS trust  for such a great example of how to use the app in EHC Planning . If you are interested in purchasing the digital Talking Mat then please phone the office 01786479511. We are just changing the purchasing model from subscription to one off sale so its temporarily removed from the web site.

Winner in Digital Health Awards

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We are delighted to be a Winner in the People Driven Digital Health Awards which were held in Leeds on Friday 3rd July. These awards were instigated to recognise the work of digital health innovators from across the UK and aim to connect the people who have ideas and make them happen.

The event was organised by mHabitat  and compered by a well known health commentator, Roy Lilley, of the Academy of Fabulous Stuff. The evening was full of fun and energy and we met lots of interesting people and made good connections. There is loads going on in digital health and services should make use of all these fabulous innovations that will improve people’s lives and health services. To get a flavour of the evening follow #PDDAwards15 and to find out about the other winners click here.

Our category, ‘the most impressive third sector digitally enabled service’ recognises third sector services which have embedded digital tools and services into improving people’s experience and outcomes. We very honoured to win this category with our digital Talking Mat. The announcement of the winners was followed by a flurry on Twitter which you can dip into here .

 

 

Talking Mats App – Version 2

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We are delighted to announce the release of Version 2 of the Talking Mats App  

This app has a number of great new features which many of you have been asking for.
There are two new resources – Eating and Drinking – which has  3 main topic sets - Meals, Impact on Health and Things that might help.

journeyThe second new resource is Social Care which includes the topics Activities, Where you live and You.

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There is an amazing new feature which many people have been asking for. Version 2 allows you to add your own images from your camera roll. This means that you can add you own personalised pictures to any of the topics.
Watch out for next week’s blog when Lois will tell you about her holiday using this new feature!

You can now also reset your password, use the Back button to navigate through the app, delete individual sessions and use the updated report page.

If you have already purchased the gold version of the Talking Mats app you will get all these new features for free.

If you wish to purchase the app please click here or for further information call our office 01786 479511

AAC, group work and Occupational Therapists

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We’re delighted that Andrea Powell, an Occupational therapist in Edinburgh has written a Blog for us about her experiences of being involved in group work with people who use AAC.

As a student occupational therapist, I worked part time as a support worker with an amazing lady Jennifer, (Jennifer is a pseudonym) Jennifer just happened to use an iPad to communicate. At this time I was about to commence my final year studies and was required to research and write a dissertation on a subject of interest. The lightning bolt of inspiration came when I, with Jennifer attended a weekly AAC user support group which was run and organised by a group of SLT’s.

The group was a wonderful resource that truly benefited the people who used it. I witnessed how much Jennifer valued spending time chatting with friends who also used an AAC device and who understood the unwritten rules of engagement. Such as patience while I set up my speech, don’t look at my screen while decide what I want to say etc. Her confidence in using different types of conversation grew while attending the group. It encouraged her to add to her already wide and variety vocabulary. As her support worker I also valued the opportunity to gain access to training on how to use her AAC and how I could provide better support to her.

I began reading around AAC and how people integrate of devices into their lives.  I was however shocked to find that the wonderful group Jennifer attended was a rare occurrence for many users. The more I read, the more I realised that many users struggled to continue using an AAC device due to lack of support, access to trained professionals and most did not have wonderful resources like user support groups.

As an OT I was interested to explore the role in which I would play within AAC provision and found that as an OT I would be mainly providing support and advice on positioning, accessing devices and ergonomic type support.

However I felt that as an OT we have many more skills that didn’t appear to be to be getting utilised, within in my dissertation proposal I postulated that OT’s could expand their role within AAC to i) collaborating on assessments for AAC; ii) training on devices once they have been issued to users; and, iii) running and facilitating groups for AAC users and communications partners in the community.

OT’s are highly trained specialists skilled at understanding what is achievable and realistic for an individual. Occupational therapists assess individuals holistically in order to establish realistic and manageable goals which can be graded and adapted to suit the individual. Through the utilisation of appropriate grading of an occupation, a user can experience success and therefore less failure and frustration, ensuring the challenge is set at the appropriate level for the individual concerned (Park 2009).

Running and facilitating groups as a therapeutic tool is something that occupational therapists have been doing since the earliest days of the profession and groups are now utilised in many areas of practice (Howe and Schwartzberg 2001). By continuing this tradition, occupational therapists are well placed to take the lead in running and facilitating groups for AAC users, integrating social and community activities into the groups, for example, meeting in local shops to provide real life experience of interactions and, importantly, promoting the use of AAC to the general public. There are similar projects being attempted in Motherwell to increase the awareness of Dementia and make local businesses “Dementia friendly” (Shafii and Crockett 2013). Providing groups for AAC users not only enables them to learn how to use their devices, but also provides a support network of other users and communication partners.

I feel that if the skills of an OT were utilised in more than ergonomics then more positive outcomes could be seen for the user of AAC. I believe that if there were more OT’s taking on additional roles within AAC provision it could help reduce the pressure for SLT’s and the waiting lists to see SLT’s. It would also enable more users to be assessed to use AAC.