Many thanks to Marit Boot, founder of the charity What? Why? Children in Hospital for this guest blog sharing information about the fantastic family-friendly videos they make to help children understand hospital procedures.
As a mum, I know the worry when your child is ill and needs tests in hospital. It’s the not knowing what is wrong, understanding all the different tests and how to explain them to your child. That’s why I founded the What? Why? Children in Hospital charity to make family-friendly videos about hospital. So when we make a new video explaining a procedure in an easy to understand way, it’s the reaction from parents that makes it worthwhile. The relief, that they now have an idea of what will happen and that they can share the video with their child, it makes their preparation much easier. I want to share with you the story of one of the mums in our latest video. Louise talked to us about Rocco’s gastrostomy feeding tube operation.
“We didn’t have anything like the videos WWCIH make when Rocco first had the gastrostomy surgery. Being a parent in that position is daunting. You want to do what’s right for your child but there’s so much to take in. It isn’t always easy to remember what you’re told in the doctor’s office. So when we had the opportunity to help other worried parents and children by making this video, we jumped at it.”
Thousands of children go through a gastrostomy procedure in Scotland every year. It’s a major procedure and can be a complex idea to communicate to children and anxious parents. In the videos, medical specialists talk through how a gastrostomy feeding tube works, how the procedure is done and how parents should look after the feeding tube at home.
The videos are absolutely fantastic! With 32 doctors, nurses and specialists helping to deal with my son’s complex needs, it can be overwhelming to take in information they give to us. These videos are amazing for parents to find out information when they’re ready to absorb it. Even if that’s when you finally get to sit down at 2am.Gastrostomy is major surgery and we had to weigh the risks against the benefits for Rocco’s life. There was so much to take in, about the operation, the aftercare. At one point the doctor used a teddy to show how the tube worked – it was useful but didn’t give the full picture. The videos What? Why? have made cover what you need to know in a calm, thoughtful way. They will be a huge help to worried parents and will help them explain to their child what will happen and why. They should make as many videos as possible!”
We have 55 videos on our YouTube channel about tests such as MRI, CT, ECG, ultrasounds, allergy tests, breathing tests and sleep studies and we are always making new ones. They’re made in partnership with children’s hospitals in Scotland and are suitable for school-aged children, children with learning difficulties and autism as well as parents and carers from all cultural backgrounds and literacy levels. The videos have already been viewed by 2.8 million families across the world.
If you know a parent or carer who’s worried about their child going to hospital send them to our YouTube page (WWCIH charity), Facebook page (@wwcih) or our website: www.wwcih.org.uk
And if there’s a procedure you think we should look at next, get in touch! We’re here to help children and parents just like you!
Marit Boot, Founder What? Why? Children in Hospital, July 2019
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):
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/
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/
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/
These opportunities are only open to people who have attended Foundation training
Talking Mats and Autism- Have you sometimes tried it and it didn’t work?
There is a growing interest in teaching TM to people with ASD. We know that some important adaptations might be required to make this a meaningful experience, and are keen to share our learning so far.
Being asked for thoughts or views can be difficult for some people with communication difficulties. In particular, there is a group of people with autism where some of the core principles of Talking Mats have to be taught in stages. Some thinkers will just ‘get it’ and find it a valuable tool for sharing their thoughts and for supporting decision making. For others there may have to be adaptations and /or specific teaching e.g. the vocabulary of the top scale. We heard recently of a student in a specialist centre who couldn’t use Talking Mats. However the staff would include him in groups where it was used and make sure he was around others doing Mats. After a few years, he did learn the principles and go on to use it effectively.
We have gathered ideas and knowledge from practitioners working in the field of autism and included these on our web-site under Free Stuff on Communication Disability. ASD guidelines It’s important that these guidelines grow and adapt as we learn more about using TM with an even wider range of people.
We’ve arranged a twilight session here at Stirling on the 1st of February 2018 to bring together practitioners working in the field of autism to extend our knowledge and encourage a staged approach to effective use of Talking Mats.
We’re delighted that Ruth Chalmers, Principal Teacher for Autism Spectrum Info and Support Team (ASIST) in Fife will be joining us to talk about developing social communication skills using Talking Mats. There will be time for small group chat so bring along a case you want to discuss.
Please share the attached flier 201802 AsD seminar with your network and we hope you can join us
Please come along and If you are interested in attending this twilight session 4.00pm to 6.00 pm (cost £20.00), please notify us at firstname.lastname@example.org