Category Archives: Self management

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

Talking Mats collaborative ‘wall’

wall

Thanks to Rosie Murray for this great blog describing how she used a collaborative Talking Mats ‘Wall’ to help students comment on how different activities inside and outside college make them feel.

As a student, I trained in the Talking Mats approach, after finding it incredibly useful in clinical placements. I am now a speech and language therapist at St John’s College in Brighton. This is a college for young adults with autism, learning disabilities and SEBD. Our learners have a wide range of communicative needs and cognitive abilities. I was approached by our nursing team in the lead up to world mental health awareness day, as they were organising a ‘tea and talk’ session for our learners of all abilities.

We organised a range of activities, such as symbolised conversation starters. However, we felt we needed something to allow our less verbal learners to make their voices heard. I thought back to my training, and remembered Joan Murphy talking about large, collaborative Talking Mats – or ‘talking walls’. We discussed this idea, and felt it would be a great way for students to feedback on how different activities inside and outside college make them feel.
It took some considerable planning. Due to the emotional needs of some students, our top scale required us to avoid words that were too upsetting for individuals. In the end we settled on ‘good’ (with a widget ‘calm’ symbol) and ‘worried’. We also wanted it to provide a genuine opinion, so although we considered including activity options that were clearly negative, e.g. ‘fire alarms’, we took the opportunity to show our learners that we all have different opinions on things, and that this is good. We hypothesised that because of this, learners would be skewed towards giving positive opinions, and this informed the order of presentation of the top scale and the activities themselves.
On the day, we had 15 different activities to give an opinion on, each with different border colours for differentiation, and of course blank tiles so our learner’s could come with their own activities. Students were encouraged to write their name on the back of a chosen activity, and a consistent script was used to present the wall to each learner. Makaton signing was used alongside the script to support understanding.

Rosie Murray's wall
Everyone loved the wall!

Learners of all abilities offered their opinion, and it generated discussion between learners of differing abilities. It signposted staff to particular likes and dislikes of learners, and showcased the power of talking mats to all staff. For example, one of our learners is a cheerful young man, who uses minimal verbal utterances to communicate. When the board was presented to him, he very clearly selected ‘talking’ as an activity, and clearly indicated that it makes him worried. This has allowed us to reflect as a staff team about how we can support him to communicate with minimal anxiety.
Learners too took away some important lessons from using the wall. They saw that while some activities are VERY popular (e.g. computer time), some are quite polarised, e.g. animals. This highlights the important issue of mutually respecting each others differences. Since the event, staff have discussed ideas they have on how to utilise this tool. We are considering how we could use Talking Mats as a tool in our peer mentoring sessions between learners of higher and lower verbal ability, as we feel it would be beneficial for both mentee and mentor. We are looking forward to using Talking Mats as a flexible tool for the college in the future.

Please let us know of any other innovative ways of using Talking Mats!

Self-manage by using Digital Talking Mats


We are now half way through our project, funded by The Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland, whose overall aim is to empower people with a range of long term conditions, with and without additional communication difficulties, to self-manage their own health and well-being by using Digital Talking Mats.

Participants

particiapnts
We have carried out all the initial visits and 16 follow-up visits and participants are sending in their completed mats, choosing whichever topics they want from the digital Health and Well-being resource. At the time of writing this blog we have received 137 completed mats.

We have received very positive feedback with many examples of how people are using the Digital Talking Mats to self-manage.

Here are 3 examples:

One participant with learning disability has diabetes. Through using the Digital Talking Mats she has stopped buying takeaways every night and is now buying M&S ‘Balanced for You’ meals. This is a huge step forward for her as she refused to discuss healthier eating before.

LD Self care

A man with early onset dementia has identified that he used to enjoy singing and has decided for the first time in his life to join a choir. This is not something that had come up in conversation before. Despite the diagnosis of dementia he has realised that he is still keen to try new things.

 

Demntia Leisure

 

The wife of a man with severe aphasia said ‘This (Leisure away) has highlighted how few things he can do away from home. We discussed this but can’t see how we can change the situation.’ However at the second visit he used the same mat and indicated that he had been thinking about his mobility and was about to start swimming and a fitness class.

Stroke Leisure
We already have an increased awareness of the meaning of self-management as we observe how participants are using the Digital Talking Mats to think about their situation, state their own views and share them with carers/support workers. We are also noticing that there is a shift in some relationships as the carers/support workers realise that the person with the long term conditions can make decisions and express their own views rather than having decisions made for them.

Living with Aphasia Conference

presentation_yellow

Thanks to Gill Pearl for sending us this information about an international conference for people with aphasia.

Where:  Warwick Conference Centre, Coventry, England

When:  Sunday 5 and Monday 6 March, 2017

 

Families, friends, aphasia and stroke organisations, and health professionals are also invited. People with aphasia have planned the conference and will chair the sessions.

The information will be presented in a way that is easier for people with aphasia.  There will be support from therapists and students to help people to join in.

The following themes will be discussed

  •  technology and aphasia, learn and have a go
  • increasing awareness of aphasia, and using social media
  • sharing what’s happening about aphasia around the world
  • research
  • support for carers of people with aphasia
  • aphasia and the arts.

There will be an exhibition of products relevant for people living with aphasia

Who_We_AreThis is a wonderful opportunity to

  • Do something new, develop confidence, be inspired
  • Learn from each other and share ideas
  • Find out about new services and ways to help
  • Meet people with aphasia from around the world!

 

If you want to find out more, contact Gill or Denise at

Aromatherapy Talking Mat

smell

Many thanks to Cheryl Strutt for this lovely blog about how she developed and used an Aromatherapy Talking Mat with people with learning disability.

I am an Aromatherapist who works with adults who have a learning disability and often additional communication difficulties. As part of a recent service review I wanted to develop patient involvement. Talking Mats (TM) was suggested as a possible option to support patient feedback. I decided to look into this tool further and access training. During my TMs training I was supported to develop my specific Aromatherapy TM. The main aim behind this initiative was to adopt a system that could identify how each patient felt about the service and identify if there were areas where changes or improvements could be made. I wanted to work closely, alongside each patient, in order to learn how they really felt about their Aromatherapy treatments, their likes/dislikes etc. and to give them a sense of ownership of their sessions. It’s all about giving individuals with a communication difficulty a voice that can be heard.

aromathery pic

The Aromatherapy TM supported patients to understand what is involved in an aromatherapy session and has been effective in helping them to personalise their session.

I used the Aromatherapy TM within the patient’s first session and following their last session, taking a photograph of the completed mats as evidence. The TM is an excellent way of offering a range of different types of massage experience and the patient can select their preferences. I found it an excellent way, to obtain valuable feedback on patient experience. One patient with a severe learning disability and autism was able through the use of symbols, to indicate his dislike for the music being played during his Aromatherapy session. He has no verbal means of communication and feedback like this would not have been achieved if the Aromatherapy TM wasn’t used. Through the implementation of the TM I now have evidence of patient centred practice, in relation to the therapeutic value of the Aromatherapy Service. The Aromatherapy TM supported patients to understand what is involved in an aromatherapy session and has been effective in helping them to personalise their session.

Since the implementation of the Aromatherapy TM, patient feedback is now at the heart of the Service. The patient is now able to openly give comments, make choices on their treatment plan, which in turn is making their attendance at the department, a very pleasurable one and it’s very personal to the individual. Another patient who said that he wasn’t able to read or write, was able to explain what the symbols meant and chose the symbol for happy. He went on to indicate his preferences stating ‘I like foot-spa and a foot massage.’ Prior to using the TMs, I was often reliant on observing the patient’s body language to assess their level of enjoyment and gain feedback. The Aromatherapy TM now allows for a more accurate method of evaluating interventions. I am so enthusiastic about the increased level of patient involvement and the willingness of the patients to become involved in this activity. This project clearly demonstrates the value of involvement, leading to improved partnership working and better experiences.

Cheryl Strutt, Aromatherapist, Cheryl.strutt@belfasttrust.hscni.net