Tag Archives: Learning Disability

When Supported People can Help Others Improve their Support

Charter for Involvement symbol

NIN blog 2

Many thanks to Paddy Carstairs, Development Worker (NIN) at ARC Scotland, for this guest blog describing the recent Talking Mats ‘Charter for Involvement’ project.

 

The National Involvement Network (NIN) is a large group of people who get support from different organisations across Scotland. Members meet to share ideas and experiences of being involved in things that affect their lives. In 2015 NIN published the Charter for Involvement. The Charter explains in their own words how people want to be more involved in:

  • the support they receive
  • the organisations that support them
  • the wider community

 

Organisations are invited to sign up to the Charter. This means making a commitment to put the Charter into practice. At time of writing 81 organisations, including 7 H&SCPs have done so.

 

NIN members wanted to make sure that more people could engage with the Charter. In particular it wanted to help people express their views on living independently and taking part in their communities.

NIN drawing

 

In partnership with Talking Mats and ARC Scotland eight NIN members trained in how to use a Talking Mat. They then created and designed a Talking Mat for the Charter for Involvement, using images that featured in the Charter. The theme was “Taking Part” and came in two stages, firstly using concrete images and then more abstract ones. A film was made to record the experience of NIN members developing and trying out the new tool.

NIN mat picture

With the help of the organisations that support them, NIN members piloted the new Charter Talking Mat and conducted 60 interviews with supported people. This helped everyone learn about what worked well and not so well, and changes were able to be made.

Charter example mat 1

Charter example mat 2

Just as importantly, it showed that people who get support were able to use a Talking Mat to help other supported people make changes and improve the support they receive. NIN members found that when thinkers gave a card the thumbs down, as listeners they were able to support people to seek changes to their support that they wanted, or pass on information that would help improve their lives. Some thinkers said they felt more comfortable doing the Talking Mat with another person who gets support.

These experiences have been recorded in a film called Talking Mats Stories. In it NIN members describe the impact the Charter Talking Mat has had, the changes that were made possible to enable people do things they wanted, and the confidence and satisfaction they drew from being able to help other supported people.

Talking Mats Stories can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aer7v4fyFU&t=3s

Or by visiting the NIN page on the ARC Scotland website – https://arcscotland.org.uk/involvement/national-involvement-network/

Talking Mats Stories was produced by Media Education

 

Organisations that supported NIN members to produce the Charter Talking Mats were: the Action Group, Hansel, Turning Point Scotland, Cornerstone, Streets Ahead Borders, the Redwoods Caring Foundation and Hillcrest Futures (formerly Gowrie Care)

Paddy Carstairs

Development Worker (NIN)

ARC Scotland

 

If you are interested in finding out about Talking Mats Projects check out this link  – https://www.talkingmats.com/projects/

And do get in touch if you’d like to discuss any potential projects – we would love to hear from you!

 

How Talking Mats Makes a Difference in a Forensic LD Setting

talking about myself

Many thanks to Susan Gowland, SLT at NHS Fife Forensic Learning Disability Service, for this guest blog summarising the fantastic presentation she delivered at our TM is 21 event in August 2019.

 

As a speech and language therapist within NHS Fife’s forensic learning disability service, I work across two low secure wards. In my presentation for the “Talking Mats is 21 event”  I talked about the way in which Talking Mats is used within these wards and the positive impact this has had for staff and patients.

Regular Check In: “it’s the same questions, but it’s easier to talk with the pictures”

Some of the people I work with use Talking Mats as a regular check in tool. Conversations are often based around the Wellbeing, Relationships and Thoughts and Feelings cards of the Keeping Safe resource, with personalised adaptations agreed with the thinker. Some people who find it difficult to express how they are feeling and irritations can either build up to a serious incident or the person can get weighted down by unexpressed needs and concerns. For these people a regular check in can address the small things before they become big things. This can help the thinker feel listened and responded to, build experiences of communicating effectively, as well as trust and therapeutic relationships, all of which are assets which will support the person to move on.

Self Reporting: “It helps me understand how I’m feeling about things”

For some people, the check in can have a specific focus. In a hospital based forensic service, unexpected and unrecognised changes in mental health can lead to serious incidents. To address this we have used Talking Mats to talk about mental health. SLT have worked with individuals, psychiatry & nursing to identify personal symptoms of mental health changes. These symptoms become options in the Talking Mat & can be used to support person to self report at the times their mental health changes. Being able to do this enables people to discuss the support they need & reduce the risk of out of the blue incidents. The Talking Mat itself can be a support. As one thinker said, “Talking Mats relaxes you, it calms you down”.

 As and when required:

The regular use of Talking Mats on the ward has led to other patients asking for Talking Mats sessions. As a licensed trainer I offer training to all professionals within our multi-disciplinary team and there is often at least one Talking Mats trained nurse on shift. This means ad hoc requests can be facilitated and some thinkers have started using Talking Mats in weekly meetings; as a tool to talk through emotional events and as a way of exploring the mixed emotions around discharge. In the words of one of the charge nurses:

“Talking Mats has enabled me to communicate with people in a way that is meaningful. To support someone to express and understand their thoughts and feelings regarding both joyous and distressing events is a privilege. The format may be simple, but the outcome is often comprehensive and insightful.”

Fife SLT blog pic 2 - Copy

 (Picture drawn by Fiona Glanville, staff nurse, NHS Fife)

 

If you would like to find out more about accessing Talking Mats training, check out this link:

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

 If you are interested in our Keeping Safe resource mentioned here (available to those who have accessed our Foundation Training / Online Training Course) please see these links for more details:

https://www.talkingmats.com/keeping-safe-a-new-talking-mats-resource-available-to-purchase/ 

 https://www.talkingmats.com/product/keeping-safe/

 

 

 

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). Talking Mat A Parents View 15.08.19
  • 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.

What is Talking Mats? An Interview with Lois Cameron

Jenny Trott

Many thanks to Jenny Trott for our new guest blog about her interview with Talking Mats Director, Lois Cameron – Jenny’s video provides some great information about the Talking Mats approach and our original and digital resources:

A year ago I started my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/jennytrott) as a way of supporting parents and carers with information and inspiration. As a parent of a disabled child myself I knew that one of the best ways to find out things is from other parents, and YouTube was just a different and new way to do that. To date I have published nearly 50 films about subjects ranging from Self Directed Support to Rebound therapy, and including interviews with parents, professionals and disabled people.

Quite early on I knew that I wanted to make a film about Talking Mats. I had used Talking Mats when I worked with people living with dementia, and I knew that my son’s school were using them too. I had seen the benefits of this innovative communication tool but I also knew that many parents and carers didn’t really understand it because they hadn’t been given the right information.

Lois was kind enough to agree to join me in front of the camera, so in April I visited Talking Mats in Stirling with my tripods, microphones and cameras. It can be a bit daunting interviewing someone I’ve not met before but Lois instantly put me at ease and had the great idea of demonstrating a Mat rather than just talking about it. It was so interesting, experiencing using a Mat first hand and it helped to show the viewers what Talking Mats is really about.

You can view the video here: https://youtu.be/Fmyt1fE-_U8

The feedback from the film has been great, both from professionals, parent carers and SLT students; lots of lightbulb moments; “ah, now I get it”!

learning_and_thinking

I am still making films but less frequently as I am now also setting up a social enterprise, Mecoco (www.mecoco.org) here in North Ayrshire.  We’ll be offering work experience and volunteering opportunities to disabled people to work alongside us making candles and melts. I am sure Talking Mats will be invaluable in our workshop!

If you’d like to find out more about accessing Talking Mats training take a look here- https://www.talkingmats.com/training/  – we offer a range of options including online, and bespoke training for organisations, as well as advanced courses and specialist seminars for those who have already accessed Talking Mats Foundation Training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using AAC: Remembering the Importance of Communicating Offline

communication_expression

Many thanks to Joan Murphy, our Talking Mats Founder, for this great blog sharing Jeppe Forchhammer’s thoughts about the importance of social communication – communicating ‘offline’  – for AAC users:

I met Jeppe Forchhammer at the 2019 ISAAC Conference in Denmark. We had an interesting conversation about the importance of social communication for AAC users and he kindly sent me this presentation and gave me permission to write a blog about his views.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1EnX559_lRSa7DeGpb0YHwni2cIjjyjF1XN-I-71-hW4/present?ueb=true&slide=id.p

Here are a few quotes from Jeppe but it is well worth reading his whole presentation

We have reached a time where communication systems become more and more electronic. I have noticed that children who need AAC ie augmented and alternative communication are starting more and more early. This I would like to question! In this lecture I will try to explain, why I think it is better to teach the children to use their body first. In order first to get direct communication relation to another person.

I think it is most important for an AAC user first to learn to interact with another person face to face. This is of course important for all infants in particular if they don’t have a spoken language. I think the eyes begins naturally to take over and the baby begin to communicate. At least I began to observe what happened around me using my eyes by watching things around me. In this way I began early to take contact with people around me.

Jeppe blog pic

I am afraid that AAC users in the future will lose some of their abilities to communicate with their body or facial expression. Especially if one starts too early. I think there is a risk that the child get blinkers and we have the risk that the child will be introvert. This might give the child some social problems if it doesn´t learn to use and read the body.

We must remember that a good relation is created face to face and not through a Speech Generating Device.

If they only communicate through their speech generating computer they may miss the face to face communication.

Many thanks to Jeppe for his thoughtful and stimulating comments.

If you would like to contact him, please email jeppeforchhammer@gmail.com

The importance of social and non-verbal communication is highlighted in our Talking Mats training courses.  If you are interested in accessing this training take a look at our options here – https://www.talkingmats.com/training/