Category Archives: symbols

Using Talking Mats as a ‘Thinking Tool’ for Student Supervision

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Here Laura Holmes, our North-West England Associate, describes how she used Talking Mats to support mid and end of placement reviews with a Speech and Language Therapy Student:

I am very familiar with using Talking Mats to help the children I work with to express their views and opinions – to give them a voice in terms of therapy planning and to enable the children to think about and share what works for them.

However I recently also used Talking Mats to support a Speech and Language Therapy student who was on placement with me. I introduced the approach to support our discussion during her mid-placement review, and then again, during the final review at the end of her placement.

I introduced a Talking Mat with the topic ‘Clinical Areas’ and the topline question ‘Confident/OK/ Not Confident’. I made up options relating to each clinical assessment area as described in the University Student Handbook/Guidelines.

Here is the mat from the student’s mid – placement review:

student 1

And here is the mat from the end of placement review:

Student 2

The pictures help to show the shift in the student’s confidence from the mid-point of the placement in comparison to the end of the placement.

The first Talking Mat helped us to focus our discussions in terms of what skills needed further support/development during the placement. The second Talking Mat then supported our evaluation of current learning outcomes at the end of the placement, as well as helping to identify key learning outcomes for the student’s next placement.

The student shared that she found Talking Mats a really useful thinking tool to help her to think carefully about her skills and the progress she had made during the placement. This was easier than during a typical face-to-face discussion due to the focus on the mat. The interaction itself was also more relaxed as a result.

My next step will be to introduce use of symbols for topic and options – here are some examples from a Scotland-wide Talking Mats project which involved asking students about their work placements:

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We often have members of University and College staff coming to our Foundation Training Courses – find out more about this and other training options we offer here:

https://www.talkingmats.com/training/

 

If you have any examples of using Talking Mats for student supervision, and would like to share them, it would be great to hear from you! Just email me at laura@talkingmats.com

 

 

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

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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/

 

 

How do I feel about going on a Residential School Trip?

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In this latest blog, Laura Holmes (Talking Mats Associate based in Stockport) shares a great example of how Talking Mats can be used by education staff to help children to share their thoughts and feelings:

One of Teaching Assistants I work with at Woodley Primary School in Stockport, Lucie Porteus, attended Talking Mats Foundation Training in December 2018. Since then Lucie has been using Talking Mats with many of the children on our Speech and Language Therapy caseload in school.

Lucie’s use of Talking Mats with a group of Year 6 children is a great example of the benefits of using Talking Mats to help children to share their views and opinions. Lucie had carried out initial Talking Mats sessions with four children, on a one-to-one basis. These sessions had focused on getting a general idea of each child’s thoughts and feelings using the Talking Mats ‘Consulting Children and Young People’ resources. A common theme had emerged through use of ‘blanks’ – all four children wanted to talk more about their upcoming school residential trip.  Here is a picture of one of the mats (click on the picture for a clearer view):

TM wider world

Lucie then planned and prepared options to ‘sub-mat’ the topic ‘PGL’ – the residential school trip, and chose the topline questions ‘happy about/not sure/ not happy about’. She then met with each child individually to complete the mats. Some of the issues/ questions which emerged from the mats were:

  • ‘I don’t know who the people there are’/ meeting new people
  • ‘I don’t know what we will be doing’
  • ‘Do we have a choice about what activities we can or can’t do?’/ ‘I’d like to have a choice’.
  • Privacy – getting dressed
  • Will any instructions be written down – do we just listen or will we be shown what to do?
  • The instructions might be confusing – what will I do?
  • I don’t like heights – I’m worried about climbing up high
  • Working in groups – we might all fall out
  • Sleeping – it might be hard to get to sleep. Sometimes other children talk and I can’t get to sleep.
  • What will the food be like?
  • What happens if I don’t feel well?
  • The journey – I might feel sick if I’m not at the front of the coach/ Do we get to choose who we sit with?

This information was passed on to each child’s Class Teacher and Teaching Assistant. Further conversations then took place to answer/address the above queries and concerns. Using Talking Mats meant that these conversations were personalised and focused. The children’s queries/concerns were listened and responded to well before the school trip itself.

School staff report that all the children had a fantastic time on their school trip!

Talking Mats enabled these children to have their voices heard about a topic which was really important to them. If you are interested in finding out more about accessing training to enable you to support the children and young people you work with to have their voices heard, take a look at our training options here: https://www.talkingmats.com/training/

Listening to our customers

listening is a patient safety issue

We are always very grateful for comments and suggestions about our resources, so have been listening to our customers and working to upgrade the Talking Mats Health and Well-being resource and the 4 digital resources.

There are several additions which apply to both the original and the digital versions of Health and Well-being.

  • Originally we had asked our artist not to put clothes on the characters to try to make them culturally neutral but following a number of comments – (in particular the bare hairdresser who caused much amusement!) – our artist has added clothes on those symbols where the character was obviously naked.

hairdresser

  • Next we have included additional relevant symbols and altered others to make the resource more comprehensive.

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Our App developer has also been working to incorporate all of the above features into the digital version. He has included a more comprehensive list of wording for the top scale. (Click on the image to enlarge)

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He has also added a feature which lets you toggle the wording for the top scale on and off; he has sorted the split words under the symbols and he has improved how the final record of the Talking Mats is displayed in the email sent.

Finally we are delighted to announce that our 4 main Talking Mats resources have been developed in German for the Digital version in collaboration with Professor Norina Lauer at the University of Idstein. All 4 resources – Health and Well-being, Children and Young People, Eating and Drinking and Social Care will all be available on the App by clicking on the German flag in the opening page.

The German version is not available in the original hard copy but you can order the resources with no words to allow you to add your own.

The upgrades to the digital will happen automatically in the next few weeks at no extra cost and if you would like the hard copy sets to upgrade your original resources, you can order them from us at a reduced cost. 2017-18 Additional Symbols Post Training Order form

Thanks again for your feedback – keep the comments coming!

Adding your own images to the Digital Talking Mats

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We have received a number of requests to create a guide to adding your own images and creating submats with Digital Talking Mats and this blog will show you how.

One of the features of Talking Mats is that we have developed a number of different symbol resources based on our research and clinical practice which cover a wide range of topics.
However, sometimes you may want to personalise what is being communicated about by adding your own images. You may also want to create a submat to explore an existing topic in more detail or you may want to create a completely new topic. In our training courses we explain how to do this when using the original Talking Mats.

However more and more people are now using the digital version of Talking Mats. In a previous blog we described how to add your own photos to the Digital Talking Mats.

We have now made a guide to help those who have the digital version to both add their own images and to create a submat with an example of a sub-mat with the topic “office”.

Download the following pdf to find out how to do it. dtm-a-guide-how-to-add-photos

We would love to hear any stories about making your own digital submats