Category Archives: Legal

Working in the Criminal Justice System? TOP 5 Blogs

criminal_justice_system

Thanks so much to all the practitioners who have sent us guest blogs about using Talking Mat in a Criminal Justice setting. Here are our top 5 – in no particular order!

1. Supporting Families in the Criminal Justice System: Sally Kedge, Speech and Language Therapist from Trouble Talking New Zealand shares two powerful case examples of using Talking Mats with children and families caught up in the criminal justice system. https://www.talkingmats.com/support-for-prisoners-families-experience-from-new-zealand/

2. Communication Needs within Youth Justice – Part 1: On 17th April 2017, we organised a seminar to look at underlying issues and share good practice when addressing the communication needs of people in youth justice. We had representatives from: the Scottish government, the NHS; Third sector organisations working in youth justice, the police, social workers, professional bodies, universities and social work – from as far afield as New Zealand. The emphasis from the start was that understanding communication is key to improving service delivery. https://www.talkingmats.com/communication-needs-in-youth-justice/

3. Communication Needs within Youth Justice – Part 2: The afternoon session of our seminar on 17.04.17 continued the underlying theme that communication support needs are often hidden and many looked after children have support needs that remain unidentified. The outcome of the day was the establishment of a collaborative network. https://www.talkingmats.com/youth-justice-and-communication-needs-2/

4. Setting up a SLT Service in Prison: This inspiring blog by Jacqui Learoyd explores her role in setting up a speech and language therapy ( SLT )  service in a prison and her use of Talking Mats in that setting https://www.talkingmats.com/setting-up-an-slt-service-in-prison/

5. Has Talking Mats been used in Court? Two registered intermediaries talk about a couple of cases where Talking Mats was used as part of the achieving best evidence (ABE) interviews. https://www.talkingmats.com/talking-mats-used-court/

If you have been inspired and are not yet trained, come along to one of our Foundation training courses – for details see https://www.talkingmats.com/training/foundation-training/

We also offer online training if you are unable to access the training locations – for details see https://www.talkingmats.com/training/online-training/

 

Talking Mats – 2 learning opportunities for February

learning

Do you want to introduce Talking Mats to people with a communication disability and autism, but know they will need support to learn it?

We are holding a 2 hour seminar on the 1st of February in Stirling to share ways of supporting people with autism to learn to use Talking Mats and express their thoughts.Twilight ASD Seminar

 

Do you want to help people think about the future and what they might want to have in place at end of life?  Talking Mats and Strathcarron Hospice have developed a powerful new resource to support these sensitive conversations and an advanced course is being held in Stirling on the 21st February   and in London 27th of March http://www.talkingmats.com/training/specialist-seminars/

3 topics

 

These opportunities are only open to people who have attended Foundation training

Considering Mental Capacity

Nelson Mandela

When considering someone’s mental capacity its is important to bear in mind that the right to self-determination is enshrined in law.

In 1948 Eleanor Roosevelt, as the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, was the driving force in creating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Act (1948).

Eleanor Roosevelt

Since 1948 there have been laws passed in many countries stating that people with communication disabilities should have equal rights, including and specifically in the complex area of mental capacity. In the United States the Federal Law that covers this is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 . In the UK the key Acts of Parliament are the Mental Capacity Act (2005) England and Wales  and the Adults with Incapacity Scotland Act (2000).

The UK Acts specifically focus on mental capacity and say that every adult has the right to make decisions unless proved otherwise and that each individual has a different capacity to make decisions about different aspects of their life. In addition they state that we must assume that someone has Capacity unless it is established that the person has substantial difficulty in one or more of the following criteria in the following diagram.

capacity diagram

There are a number of important expectations behind these Acts which are particularly significant for people with communication difficulties.

  • Everyone should be supported to make their own decisions (including Augmentative and Alternative Communication methods)
  • Adults should be encouraged to make use of their skills and to learn new ones where that would be helpful
  • Information to support understanding needs to be given in a way that is appropriate to his/her circumstances (using simple language, visual aids or any other means).
  • People are entitled to make their decision – this is not about what we think is good or bad
  • Judgements on capacity:
    • cannot be based on age, behaviour or disability
    • need to be made decision by decision – (so not being able to make more complicated decisions does not apply to all decisions)
    • cannot be based on past experience of decisions – they need to focused on the here and now
    • must take into account the adults socio-cultural circumstances wherever relevant
    • where a person is able to retain the information relevant to a decision for a short period only, this should not prevent him or her from being regarded as able to make the decision
  • If someone is judged to lack capacity then decisions must be in their best interest and any measures taken on their behalf are to be the least restrictive to the person
  • It is important to assess people when they are in the best state to make the decision

Please let us know how you deal with self-determination and capacity issues where you work.

In a future post I will explain how Talking Mats can help support decision making and the identification of Capacity.

Let’s talk about capacity…

A Volkmer book

We are very grateful to Anna Volkmer for sending us this blog, Lets Talk about Capacity…
She has just had an excellent book published –  Dealing with Capacity and Other Legal Issues with Adults with Acquired Neurological Conditions http://www.jr-press.co.uk/dealing-capacity-legal-issues.html. In it she describes how AAC methods, including Talking Mats, can be used to support people in expressing their decisions.

Prior to 1959 people who were considered “non-compus mentis” were cared for under the “parens patriae” principle. Literally translated this meant that they were ‘parents of the country’ and decisions to protect them and their property were made by the Crown (the Lord Chancellor). These people were often described as “Chancery Lunatics”. In 1959 the “parens patriae” jurisdiction gave way to the Mental Health Act. This Act instructed that “the judge may, with respect to the property and affairs of a patient, do or secure the doing of all such things as appear necessary or expedient…for making provision for other persons or purposes for whom or which the patient might be expected to provide were he not mentally disordered” (section 102 (1)(c)). Unfortunately, this Act did not make adequate provision for non-financial decisions such as medical decisions. During this period it was case law that guided professionals in supporting their patients who lacked capacity in medical decision making. It was not until 2005 that the first Mental Capacity Act was given Royal Assent, accompanied by the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice in 2007.

I returned to the UK from a 5-year stint working in Melbourne, Australia, just after the Mental Capacity Act had been published. Mental capacity was on the tip of everyone’s tongues and as the speech and language therapist working on a multi-disciplinary team I became an integral part of this process. Patients I was seeing, often people with primary progressive aphasia or other types of dementia, were asking about how to make future decisions. They and their families were keen to understand how the mental capacity act worked, how to prepare for the future and how to have their voices heard. On the other side of the coin I was working on an inpatient ward where staff were concerned about ensuring we were fully assessing the decision making capacity of people with cognitive and communication difficulties, often holding best interest discussion to plan for the future of these individuals. Many of these decisions related to dysphagia, but others related to accommodation and finances.

What concerned me was the lack of evidence available across the speech and language therapy arena in this area. There was little to none in terms of written research, let alone written advice or even examples of good practice tailored to speech and language therapy clinicians. As I asked around I found an enormous disparity in the services that speech and language therapy clinicians were providing across different trusts. I had previously written a book on dementia, and had included a chapter on assessments of decision-making. At this stage some of the only research related to communication and decision-making had come from Talking Mats. This had demonstrated that using the talking mats tools can support families and caregivers in conversations with their loved ones when discussing decisions to be made. They found that conversation enabled people in understanding, retaining and expressing themselves in decision-making discussions.

Following a particular stimulating discussion with the publishers at J&R press, they invited me to submit a book proposal on this topic. As I was developing this idea I found the topic of mental capacity was raised more and more often at study days and seminars I attended. At these study days I started linking in with more like minded speech and language therapists such as Mark Jayes, Hannah Luff and Claire Devereux. These were clinicians who all agreed on the diversity of our potential role in supporting our patients around mental capacity issues. These common interests enabled a collaboration. Our book is now published.

Through these connections I became aware of other work being done; Mark Jayes holds a NIHR doctoral fellowship award and is conducting research in the development of a communication and capacity assessment tool kit. Claire Devereux is the chair of the Southern Psychiatry of Old Age Clinical Excellence Network, together we have held a workshop with the clinical specialists where we developed a consensus document on role of the speech and language therapist in capacity assessment. This is to be published in Bulletin magazine later this year. Hannah Luff is a clinical lead speech and language therapist at South London and the Maudsley NHS Trust and is currently a member of the review panel looking at the NICE SCIE dementia guidelines.

The wonders and value of networking never ceases to delight, enthuse and inspire me! And you can purchase our book at the following website (there is currently a discount rate until 21st February):

http://www.jr-press.co.uk/dealing-capacity-legal-issues.html

You can follow me on my blog https://annavolkmersbigphdadventure.wordpress.com/ or on twitter @volkmer_anna

Talking Mats Specialist Seminars

bespoke-training

Following the success of previous seminars we are holding further specialist seminars in Stirling and London for anyone who has done the Talking Mats training. The topics will be:

  • Talking Mats and the Eating and Drinking resource (morning)
  • Talking Mats and Capacity (afternoon)

During the Eating and Drinking seminar, we provide background on how and why the resource was developed and showed some DVD examples of people using the resource. This really brings things to life and shows how important it is to give people (with and without speech) the opportunity to consider and talk about different aspects of eating and drinking. We also give people hands-on practice in using the symbols from each topic. Each participant will receive a copy of the full Eating and Drinking resource, including symbols, a mat, and explanatory booklet.
journey

During the Capacity seminar we will discuss the fundamental principles of the Capacity Act and participants will have a chance to consider how Talking Mats can help people to:

  • understand
  • retain/remember
  • weigh up information
  • communicate their views/wishes and feelings.

They will also be given the opportunity to work through some practical examples and think about options to help people understand issues and make decisions.

making_decisions

If you have completed a Talking Mats training course and would like to attend either of specialist seminars, please click on the relevant course and fill in the registration form.

Stirling on Friday 29th April Stirling Seminars flier Apr 2016
London on Friday 10th June London Seminars flier June 2016
Registration form Seminar registration form 2016