Category Archives: Occupational therapy

Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool

thinking

Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool

In the first of a series of blogs showcasing some of the fantastic presentations delivered during our Talking Mats is 21 event on 15th August 2019, our OT Associate Rachel Woolcomb shares her thoughts on thinking – and how Talking Mats can help:

Recently I have been giving some thought to the process of thinking!

Is thinking just a matter of the neural pathways in our brains manipulating information about ourselves and the world, to create an output or action? or is it more than that?

Can we overthink? Is being spontaneous under thinking? What about creative thinking?

At the Talking Mats is 21 celebrations I explored this subject and looked at how Talking Mats can be used effectively as a tool to support thinking.

My presentation – Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool – looked at the mechanics of thinking, and started to explore how as humans we don’t just learn facts but begin to understand and make sense of them within the context of our culture and environment.

Thinking is effortful and depending on the subject we need to think about can be complicated and demanding.

Using a Talking Mat creates the space to think, it helps to reduce other distractions and provides a structure for thinking. This means that the process of thinking becomes energy efficient as a Talking Mat enables the thinker to organise their thoughts and make connections that otherwise might not be identified or explored. The images used in the topic sets help with memory recall and are designed to expand a subject. This reduces the reliance on language and the need to express what we are thinking verbally.

The Talking Mat forms a visual picture of our thinking which is helpful for reflection and further exploration of the subject.

The final few slides in my presentation contain some quotes from occupational therapists who have used Talking Mats within their supervision sessions to enable them to think about their coping skills and strategies whist at work. I will soon be sharing a resource document on the use of Talking Mats as a reflective space for clinicians.

For further details about our Talking Mats is 21 event and presentations check out our recent blog – https://www.talkingmats.com/amazing-talking-mats-is-21-day/ 

 

If you are interested in accessing Talking Mats training, follow this link for more details of the options we can offer –  https://www.talkingmats.com/training/

 

Watch this space for more information from the presentations delivered at our #TMis21 Event!

Amazing Talking Mats is 21 day !

Talking Mats is 21

What an amazing day we had celebrating 21 years since the first article about Talking Mats was published in August 1998 in the Communication Matters journal. Over 180 people attended from so many different walks of life. We are grateful to them all for coming and helping us mark the occasion. We are also grateful to the endowment fund of Forth Valley NHS for helping us fund the event.

In the morning thanks to a fantastic group of speakers we discussed a diverse range of topics:

  • Rachel Woolcomb, our OT associate explored how she sees Talking Mats as an ‘energy efficient’ thinking tool and outlined how it supports people to think through issues Talking Mats as a Thinking Toolrachel
  • Two teachers, Fiona Graham and Claire Forgan examined the benefits and challenges of embedding Talking Mats in school to encourage and extend pupil participation
  • Susan Gowland, a speech and language therapist discussed the use of Talking Mats in a forensic setting illustrating from a case example how Talking Mats helped staff see that incidents do not come out of the blue. When they looked at the pattern of mats over time they could see when the patient was expressing concern about small things. This was an indication that bigger things were going on for him.
  • Sally Boa the Research Manager for Strathcarron Hospice led on how Talking Mats was a way to enable ‘end of life’ conversations, things that can be hard for any of us to talk about. The mats give a safe space and structure to enable these conversations to take place. Talking Mats and Palliative care
  • Two parents Tracey Campbell and Sarah Robertson spoke about their experience with using Talking Mats with their children. Sarah said ‘Talking Mats gives us a happier home. It helps me be patient, listen and give power to him’ (her son).
  • Jill Bradshaw of the Tizard Centre, University of Kent outlined her research including her work exploring Talking Mats as a tool to sit beside functional analysis of behaviour where the person’s own view of what challenges and helps them is often overlooked and not included fully.
  • Anne Lafferty of The Advocacy Project , give a powerful example of using Talking Mats in a legal setting. This important work is in need of funding so we can explore this more fully. Everyone also got to play legislation bingo!  Talking Mats and Supported Decision Making PP 2
  •  Liz Taylor (Talking Mats licensed trainer) and Lynnette Linton (Talking mats co-trainer) from The Action Group shared their experience in a fantastic film.  They used a Talking Mat to reflect on the experience and would recommend co-training as an effective way to deliver the Foundation course.
  • Brian Robertson and Paddy Carstairs described how they developed a Talking Mats to allow members of the National Involvement Network to explore with other people with a learning disability how The Charter for Involvement related to their life experience.This is an empowering way of using Talking Mats that shows that people who get support can help change and improve the support of other supported people.This is an empowering way of using Talking Mats that shows that people who get support can help change and improve the support of other supported people.
  • Rosie Noyce from Pennine Care NHS described a whole team approach to supporting Healthy Young Minds and how they have embedded Talking Mats into their care pathway. She cited powerful case examples of impact and a real commitment by the team to hear the voices of young people  Talking Mats and Young People’s Mental Health

And that was just the morning! Lots of delegates have asked for copies of the presentations so watch this space

The afternoon demonstrated just how far Talking Mats has come through its partnerships with other organisations. We are so grateful to all the people who came and had stalls and engaged with our networking activities! There was a real buzz in the room as people explored the variety of ways in which Talking Mats is used to support and enable more effective communication. Lots of connections were being made, people thinking about new ways of working and applying Talking Mats in their settings. People enjoyed seeing old friends but was good to see new networks were being built.

So, thank you Care Opinion, Turning Point Scotland, The Action Group, Capability Scotland, The CALL Centre, The Indigo Group, The National Involvement Network, Forth Valley NHS, The Stirling University Careers Service and Alzheimer Scotland. In addition, Talking Mats had a stand with all its products. Also, to promote our Birthday offer since we are 21, we have a 2 for 1 offer on resources for 21 days so order quickly. It ends on the 5th of September!

Today was also the day that Joan marked her ‘retirement’. gregShe gave a very moving speech that celebrated her distinguished career and her very significant achievements. She leaves an amazing legacy in the Talking Mats framework and with all the energy in the room we are sure it will continue to grow and develop. Thank you, Joan.

Thinking Ahead – How Talking Mats can support Difficult Conversations

chatting

Rachel Woolcomb, our Talking Mats OT Associate, shares a recent personal experience where she used Talking Mats to support a difficult conversation:

The vision of Talking Mats is to improve the lives of people with communications difficulties. I have been reflecting recently on the definition of ‘communication difficulties.’

When I first heard about, and started to use Talking Mats 10 years ago, my perception was that it was fantastic for those that could not speak but I must admit I didn’t really consider using it with people who, such as myself, could use their voice to communicate.

Over the years as my understanding has developed, and I have looked further into the use of Talking Mats as a ‘thinking tool’ I have come to a different conclusion.

I would like to suggest that at some points in our lives, each one of us is likely to experience a communication difficulty. I don’t mean that we cannot physically speak, but that we cannot express what we really want to say in words. Perhaps a topic is too difficult to talk about with someone so we don’t bother, or we are overwhelmed by the subject that we don’t really know where to start.

One such subject is that of death and dying.

We know it will happen to us all one day but to talk openly with loved ones, is for some reason, too much to comprehend, too emotive, or considered bleak.

I am very fortunate enough to have grandparents in their 90’s however the conversation about their wishes for the future goes unspoken. It is a challenge for my parents to raise the issue therefore it remains the big unknown.

This is a common problem. In 2009, The National Council for Palliative Care wanted to address this issue and set up the Dying Matters Coalition in England and Wales, to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement and to make plans for the end of life.

Talking Mats have produced a set of topic cards called ‘Thinking Ahead.’ https://www.talkingmats.com/product/thinking-ahead/

These were created in consultation with Strathcarron hospice to help people with advanced illness or long term conditions to think ahead and plan for the future. The three topics in the set are: Affairs, Care and Treatment and Personal Values.

My Mum was interested in my role with Talking Mats and wanted to understand what it was all about. We had already started to talk about the challenges of having difficult conversations, especially about death, and therefore over a drink, in a relaxed coffee shop, we embarked on a journey of discovery using a Talking Mat. My Mum as the Thinker and myself as the Listener .

Rachel cafe photo

She used the Talking Mat to help her think about things she had not considered and was able to make plans about what she wanted to do next. I heard her wishes and her thoughts, on why certain things were important to her. It was a very special time, facilitated by a Talking Mat.

My challenge to you as readers of this blog is to ask yourself ‘what do I have difficulty talking about’ – A Talking Mat just might be the answer!

Another resource you might find helpful is ‘Let’s Talk about Death and Dying’ –  www.ageuk.org.uk

Rachel will be running a ‘Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool’ workshop at our Talking Mats is 21 Event is in Stirling on Thursday 15th August 2019. Dr Sally Boa from Strathcarron Hospice will also be running a ‘Talking Mats in End of Life Care’ workshop at this event. Thanks to funding from NHS Forth Valley endowment committee the event is free but you do need to book your space https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talking-mats-is-21-tickets-62362171935

21st save the date

You can come to the morning only, afternoon only or come for the whole day.

If you can’t come to our event watch out for out blogs and social media celebrating the reach of Talking Mats for 21 days before the 15th of August.  Please join in with your contributions using the hashtag #TMis21. For 21 days after our event we will be having a special Birthday offer! Watch this space, more to follow …….

Talking Mats is 21

21st save the date

We are all looking forward to celebrating Talking Mats is 21 on the 15th August

The morning is aimed at people who are experienced Talking Mats practitioners and will extend thinking and Talking Mats practice. There are an interesting range of parallel sessions to choose from. Each participant will get to choose three topics to attend.

  • Talking Mats as a Thinking Tool
  • Embedding Talking Mats in Schools
  • Talking Mats in Forensic Settings
  • Talking Mats in End of Life Care
  • My experience of using Talking Mats as a parent
  • Talking Mats and Positive behaviour Support
  • Talking Mats and Supported Decision- Making
  • Empowering people with Learning Disabilities to be Talking Mats Listeners and Trainers
  • Talking Mats and Children’s Mental Health

learning_and_thinking

The afternoon is more informal and there will be an opportunity to engage with some of our partners – see how they use Talking Mats and try things out . There will be posters on the use of Talking Mats in lots of different places and for a wide range of applications.

Plus there will be lunch, cake and a few bubbles !

cake and bubbles

Thanks to funding from NHS Forth Valley endowment committee the event is free but you do need to book your space https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/talking-mats-is-21-tickets-62362171935

You can come to the morning only, afternoon only or come for the whole day.

If you can’t come to our event watch out for out blogs and social media celebrating the reach of Talking Mats for 21 days before the 15th of August .Please join in with your contributions using the hashtag #TMis21. For 21 days after our event we will be having a special Birthday offer! Watch this space, more to follow …….

Shared Decision Making and Goal Setting – how can we use Talking Mats to support delivery of Personalised Care?

learning_and_thinking

In this latest blog, our Talking Mats OT Associate, Rachel Woolcomb tells us how Talking Mats can support delivery of Personalised Care:

“Person centred practice”, and “partnership approach” are common phrases heard in health and social care settings but what does this really mean in practice?

How good are we at ensuring our service users are truly heard, and given opportunities to talk about what is important to them?

Recently NHS England set out their ambitions for the delivery of personalised care. This is a commitment to enabling people to have the same choice and control over their mental and physical health that they have come to expect in every other part of their life.

This however requires a shift in culture.

One of the cornerstones of personalised care is shared decision making. This is a collaborative process in which people are supported to understand the options available to them including the various risks, benefits and consequences. A shared decision will have acknowledged personal preferences, circumstances, values and beliefs. This ensures that when a choice is made it is fully informed.

There is substantial literature which demonstrates the usefulness of goal setting as part of the communication and decision making process.

A well written person-centred goal will describe the anticipated achievement of a specific activity. It will be meaningful and help create a common vision within the rehabilitation process.

Talking Mats is an ideal tool to help facilitate these processes. They enable better conversations and provide an interactive thinking space. They have also been demonstrated to be a useful tool in enabling people to think about their rehabilitation goals.

Read more about this in the TMOT Resource 2: How Talking Mats can help facilitate shared decision making and goal setting: Goal setting TMOT 2

If you would like to find out more about the different Talking Mats training options we offer, take a look here:  https://www.talkingmats.com/training/