Tag Archives: Abuse

The Keeping Safe Talking Mat Resource

image (4)

The Keeping Safe Talking Mats resource is a visual framework that has been developed and trialled over 3 years. It provides:

  • A listening space for people with learning disability to raise concerns
  • A structure for staff to find out what people are thinking about their lives, and raise issues that can be difficult to discuss.

We have produced a poster that describes the development of the resource and where we have got to .  Please click here to view CM poster 20150825

The Scottish government learning disability strategy keys to life has 4 strategic outcomes for  people with learning disability in 2015-2017

  1. A health life
  2. Choice and control
  3. Independence
  4. Active Citzenship

Using the Keeping safe resource allows people to  think about , reflect on and have their say in these areas. We have loved training staff working in learning disability across Scotland to use it. The feedback on how it is being used is  very powerful, so watch  out for more blogs that will show how it has helped people with a learning disability  have a say in changing and determining their lives.

Enabling adults with Learning disabilities to raise concerns


Over the past  year we have been funded by the Scottish Government to develop a Talking Mat to enable adults  with Learning disabilities to raise issues of concern.  We have worked in close partnership with Survivor Scotland and Kingdom Abuse Survivors Project  .  Together we have developed and trialled a Talking Mat  . The final report for this project is here :Talking Mats and Survivor Scotland final Report

This year the Scottish Government recognised the value of using Talking Mats as a conversation framework to enable people with learning disability to reflect on their lives and express their views including raising  any areas of concern.  One of the key themes from the national Scottish strategy for people with learning difficulties ‘Keys to Life’ is to  keep people safe, but it was also recognised that the Talking Mat that had been designed could also help with other themes –

  • Helping people with learning disabilities stay in control
  • Shift the culture and ensure care is genuinely person centred
  • Evidence that the views of people with learning disabilities have been taken into account
  • Support people to cope with adversity and loss and enhance  resilience
  • Address health inequalities and reduce early deaths

The Scottish Government has funded a 3 year project which we are calling Keeping Safe.

This project will

  • Produce a new resource based on the feedback from earlier projects This has 3 topics of conversation . Firstly ,How people are feeling about their Health and well-being secondly, their relationships. For people who are able to think and express their views at a more abstract level  the resource has a third topic and gives them  space to reflect on their thoughts and feelings.






  •  Train staff in the 14 health boards across Scotland to use Talking Mats and this resource specifically. This training will be provided jointly with KASP so staff can be supported to think through how they respond appropriately to any concerns that may arise
  • Ensure that all health board areas have accredited trainers who will be able to lead ongoing training and sustain use of the resource

If you work with adults with learning disabilities in Scotland and would be like to be part of this exciting initiative please contact us at info@talkingmats.com.

“Talking Mats – a way to find out about harm and abuse”


My name is Karin Torgny, I’m from Sweden. My background is in journalism and culture studies. I used to work in “The Development Centre for Double Exposure” for many years, and our mission was to improve and spread knowledge about violence against women with disabilities. My special interest during these years was AAC. Today I work for Unicef and in different projects on human rights issues.

A year ago I did my accredited Talking Mats training in Stirling, Scotland. Since then I have given my first course in using Talking Mats when talking about abuse and harm. It was a great experience and an opportunity to work with an enthusiastic group of women who were open and willing to communicate using symbols. They are all in an organisation working with girls/women with intellectual disability exposed to violence and oppression in the name of honour.

I think Talking Mats is a good tool when approaching difficult subjects and I hope to run more courses like this in Sweden in the future. Lately I was interviewed on the Swedish Radio and talked about the use and possibilities with Talking Mats when someone is exposed to harm and abuse.

For those who know Swedish (!), here is a link to that program, http://t.sr.se/1mxZv9W

I am also curious if someone else is doing something similar. If so I would be interested to know more. Send an e-mail to: karin.torgny@gmail.com

Have a look at how Talking Mats has been used in Scotland to support people with a learning disability to disclose issues of concern: Survivor Scotland

Day 69 Justice for LB: The importance of Listening

listening is a patient safety issue

Talking Mats has adopted day 69 of the justice for LB Campaign. This campaign was started was after Connor Sparrowhawk drowned in the bath whilst staying in  an assessment treatment unit .  In the words of his mum Connor was ‘a beautiful, hilarious and loved beyond words dude’.  So, after decades of trying to improve services for people with learning disability, closing the long stay hospitals, bringing in person centred approaches, we are left in 2014 with huge inequalities in the health and life opportunities  for people with learning disability and life’s like Connor are cut short in such a shocking, unnecessary and untimely manner.

How many more tragic deaths are we going to see before residential services for people with learning disability are going to change?  We need to see at the heart of  service culture an ability to really listen , put the views of the patient at the heart of planning and see the families as key partners. Sometimes I think people see listening as a ‘soft issue’. Other things get measured but does the quality of listening ever get measured? It should because in my view it is a critical patient safety issue.

Over the last few years I have had the privileged of working with a diverse group of people with a range of communication support needs. They have developed an interactive workbook for NHS Education Scotland. They share their experiences of contact with services to help staff understand how to improve communication and listening skills. They created 10 vision statements for staff of the things that were key to them. They told powerful personal stories to illustrate those statements. The stories illustrate both good and bad practice. You can download the free resource at http://goo.gl/QdOOev .

Listening to people what strikes me time and time again is the lottery of service delivery. There are some great stories where people have received quality treatment and interaction but that is not universal for there are stories where you are left questioning the compassion and humanity of staff in so called ‘caring’ roles. The question for all of us is how we shift the culture so that we can all experience a person centred and listening health service. I hope the energy and impetus of #107 campaign ignites the flame of change so that ‘all dudes’ gets a safe and quality service. If you want to join the campaign then please follow @justiceforLB .


Preventing abuse and supporting disclosure for people with a learning disability

Talking Mats has been working with Survivor Scotland.  They are the organisation that oversees the National Strategy for Survivors of childhood abuse in Scotland. They have focused their work on a whole range of people but recognise the incidence of abuse within Learning disability is very high and that people with a learning disability often don’t have the resources or skills to tell their story and get the support they require. Survivor Scotland are anxious to address this and develop appropriate resources for this group of people.

.In our current project with Survivor Scotland  we have developed 3 sets of Talking Mats that would allow conversations to be had with people with a learning disability. These sets were developed from a previous project that had been conducted in NHS Fife;‘the 6D Cards’ and with the input of staff experienced and skilled in working with survivors of abuse. The sets cover general issues but within those issues, patterns of concern may emerge that would allow people to discuss concerns further.

We then ran 3 training courses. These courses gave participants space to think about disclosure, encouraged them to become trauma aware and built their confidence in supporting and dealing with disclosure. Specific training in Talking Mats was also provided. The training was run jointly with Kingdom abuse Survivors Project, Survivor Scotland and ourselves and was funded by the Scottish Government

The 3 courses have now finished and 40 people have been trained in the resource. They came from all over Scotland from the Western Isles to the Borders and represented a range of professions working with people with a learning disability and with an interest in preventing abuse in learning disabilities: therapists, nurses, social workers, consultants, advocates  They will use this resource in their practice  and it will be evaluated later in the summer