Category Archives: AAC

Communication Access UK –Have your say?

communication_support

Get involved in choosing a Communication Access UK Symbol , and set the standards to go with it!

In early 2017 Communication Matters[1] found out  that –

  • People with  communication  difficulties  don’t  always  get  the  support  they  need  in  the  community.
  • People would  like  a  Communication  Access  symbol  in  the  UK.  Businesses  already  use  some  symbols e.g        mobility

A small group of people  were asked to  choose  a  symbol  to  represent  Communication Access.  2  ideas  were  very  popular.     For  an  organisation  to  display  this  communication  symbol  it  will  mean  the  staff  have  been  trained  to support communication  and that the business meets certain standards

Communication Matters now want to hear from more people,  with and without  communication difficulties.

To have your say about 1) the symbol and 2) the standards to support communication  follow this link.       http://www.talkingmats.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Communication-Access-UK-Symbols-and-Standards.pdf     You will find the symbol choice and a Talking Mat to decide what is important to include in the Communication Access Standards.                                                              Send your responses to Communication Matters

Email : admin@communicationmatters.org.uk

Or post :  Communication Matters, 3rd Floor, University House, University of Leeds,                                             LEEDS, LS2 9DF

 

[1] http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/

 

Talking Mats in Australia and New Zealand

plane

We are delighted to be travelling to Australia and New Zealand in May 17 and look forward to the opportunities the trip gives us to discuss Talking Mats in these countries.

Firstly, we are pleased to have been invited over to Australia to be involved in the Agosci Communication Conference in Melbourne from the 18-21 May 2017. Agosci is an inclusive organisation that supports the participation of all people with complex communication needs. The theme of this conference asks participants to involve people with complex communication needs in all aspects of life to create a more welcoming society for people with communication support needs.

Lois and Nicki will be attending for Talking Mats and their involvement at the conference includes

  • A one day pre – Agosci conference Foundation training for professionals in Melbourne
  • 2 presentations – one on the potential use of Talking Mats in National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and one on our current  Keeping Safe project
  • A poster on using Talking Mats in Eating and Drinking
  • A stand which will run throughout the conference and where we can and meet and chat to delegates

In addition prior to the conference we are running

  • A one day Foundation training in Sydney for Hammond Care

New Zealand

Plus we are really pleased to have linked with the Talk Link trust in New Zealand and will be visiting both Christchurch and Auckland and running foundation courses in both those places. New Zealand can be proud of their world record of electing Robert Martin in June 2016  to become the first person with an intellectual disability to serve on the UN committee dealing with people with disabilities. It feels a privilege going to a country which is providing such leadership in self-determination.

Train the trainers     

We fly back to Melbourne and run a two day Accredited Training in St Kilda’s Melbourne for Australian and New Zealand professionals previously trained in the use of Talking Mats via our online course. This course will allow them to train others within their respective organisations. By providing our accredited training and ‘training the trainers’ we are facilitating the increased use of Talking Mats in Australia and New Zealand . This increases professional skills, improves the quality of the service being provided and most importantly improves the quality of life of the person with the communication difficulty by assisting them to express their views.

So a busy schedule but exciting and we hope to have some time off to relax and enjoy new sites and a different culture. There will be more blogs to follow……… Plus if anyone has any top tips for coping with long distance flights we would like you to share them!

Happy Christmas from Talking Mats

matty-with-santa-hat

Talking Mat would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas

2106 has certainly been a busy year for us at Talking Mats. We have seen some staff changes saying goodbye to Jill hall and welcoming Morag Crawford. We were delighted when we brought Kirsty  onto our staff . Kirsty originally volunteered with us as part of a school transition programme for people with autism. Laura Holmes joined us as a Talking Mats external associate for the North West of England.

If you are interested in what we do and want to see our activity in numbers then have a look at the Talking Mats Year in numbers . Click on image to see the enlarge ! talking-mats-year-in-numbers-2015-2016

 

 

At the moment we are busy preparing for 2017 and we are looking forward to

  1. The evaluation of our following projects in The New Year

2 Continuing to work with

3 Launching more resources

  • Keeping Safe- so far this resource has only been available to people working with people with learning disability in Scotland. We will be holding a specialist seminar about this resource in London on the 17th March so its use can extend south of the border .
  • Launching our conversation sets: gardens, holidays, trips out, sports indoor, sports outdoor and football.  These were developed as part of the family training for people with dementia but they have much wider use and will be available  as additional  Talking mats sets

Plus Talking Mat is planning to go to Australia in May!

australi-and-new-zealand

Nicki and Lois have their flights booked. Agosci here we come ! Then we are over to New Zealand to run foundation training in Christchurch and Auckland before we head back to Melbourne to run the first ever accredited training course in Australia. We will also be running a specialist seminar on Keeping Safe in Melbourne. If you want any details about the trip please get in touch.

We really appreciate all the support we get from everyone involved in Talking Mats and wish you all a happy and peaceful festive season

A board game to improve communication

Communication Game

 

Delighted to introduce you to ‘The Communication Game’ : a board game for staff to improve their communication skills.

How we  listen, talk and engage with people is fundamental to the quality and effectiveness of health and social care services. Although communication underpins everything we do in a work context, it can be a difficult topic for staff to talk easily about. Add to that the possibility of service users having an additional communication support need, through reasons like stroke, learning disability or dementia, then there is much potential for things to go awry and  unfortunately, they often do. ‘Poor communication’ is cited as the most common cause of frustration in complaints about services.

The Communication Game was developed by Focus Games, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and Talking Mats. It is a learning tool to help staff working in the health & social care sector increase their knowledge and skills around communication.  The Communication Game is fun and easy to play. It can be played with or without a facilitator, and allows staff groups to have discussions and reflect on their communication skills. It allows them the chance to learn from each other. It will improve knowledge, but more importantly enable them to think about the small steps they can make to improve their interactions.

The project grew out of two previous projects funded by NES: Making Communication Even Better and Through a Different Door. In these projects, it was recognised that the experience of services for people with a communication support need is something of a lottery. For them, there was a considerable difference in the experience of interacting with a staff member who was empathetic and able adapt to their communication, to interacting with a member of staff who was struggling and unable to adapt their interaction. Training and understanding of inclusive communication practice is key. It has been a great privilege for Talking Mats to continue to support the work of the previous 2 projects and work with Focus Games Ltd to develop The Communication Game. Support during the development process from the Stroke Association Scotland, Capability Scotland, RCSLT, Scottish Care, Communication Forum, Queen Margaret University and NHS Ayrshire & Arran SLT Department have been invaluable, and we are very grateful; also to NHS Education for Scotland for their continued input and funding.

If you are working with staff in the health and social care sector, then this will be a great resource for you. You can get The Communication Game from the Focus Games online shop. It is guaranteed to promote laughter learning, and a touch of competitive team spirit. Most importantly, it will be a catalyst to help develop staff communication, making interactions better for people with communication support needs.

 

You can find out more about the game at www.communicationgame.co.uk

, and follow the game on Twitter on @Comm_Game.

 

Get your copy at www.focusgames.com.

Talking Mats and Dementia in Denmark

talking-mats-original-2

We are very grateful to  Kristine Pedersen from Kommunikationscentret in Denmark for sharing the findings of 2 projects with us.  The first project found Talking Mats was effective in supporting communication for people who have dementia when compared with both unstructured and structured conversations.

‘t is important to know how to give people with dementia the right support’

At Kommunikationscentret in Hillerød (Denmark), we have been using the Talking Mats framework since our first trainer was accredited at the Talking Mats Centre, University of Stirling in 2010. We have been using Talking Mats with both children and adults across a range of communication difficulties e.g. caused by Aphasia, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, learning difficulties etc. Inspired by the important research project by Dr. Joan Murphy and others ‘Decision making with people with dementia’ (2010), our next step was to gain our own experience within the framework specifically aimed towards people with dementia.

As in the rest of the world, the number of people in Denmark with dementia is increasing. Symptoms of dementia vary from person to person but many of the symptoms are related to communication: Difficulties finding words, using familiar words repeatedly, losing track in conversation, difficulties in focusing and paying attention etc. The growing dependence of the person with dementia on a caregiver makes communication essential to express wishes and needs. Therefore, it makes sense to look at the consequences of the illness (dementia) within the perspective of communication and how family members and professionals around the person with dementia can support communication using AAC.

The purpose of the first project  was to compare the communication in conversations about views on I) Daily activities and II) The importance of information, using three different communication methods.   The methods were: 1) unstructured conversation 2) structured conversation 3) the Talking Mats framework. The project involved 6 participants having early to moderate stage dementia, all living in residential care homes.

Like the study ‘Decision making with people with dementia’ (2010), the report concludes that the Talking Mats method was associated with better communication for the majority of the participants. The Talking Mats framework was found especially helpful regarding the participant’s ability to understand subject and question of the conversation, the participant’s ability to reflect, and the participant’s ability to make themselves understood. The graph below shows that only one participant (A1) did not benefit from the visual method. She had poor eyesight, which strongly indicates that visual support compensates the difficulties that people with dementia have.

graph

The report also concludes that the Talking Mats framework increases the interviewer’s ability to detect and compensate for some of the communication difficulties. Finally, it seemed that several of the participants have been able to learn how to use Talking Mats in the process.

The photo underneath shows a Talking Mat conversation from the project. This Talking Mat gives an insight into how this person feels about what information is important to her, and what isn’t. It is in some way a difficult and abstract question, but most of the participants managed to both understand, reflect and answer the question when we used the Talking Mats framework.

photo

Important information to this participant is information about new neighbours, the menu at the residential care home, economy etc. Less important is news about the Danish royal family, technology, getting older etc. Politics is definitely not important to her.