Apart from the necessity of fulfilling the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation which has to be completed by 25th May, I have been pondering on other advantages of complying with the GDPR.
Here at Talking Mats we are all going through files, bagging up paper for shredding, deleting data files on our master computer and preparing text to send to all our customers and contacts to make sure we only hold information that is adequate and relevant.The first advantage for us is that it’s a good way to re-establish contact with people.
I’ve been given the task of going through all the research data and have ploughed through 16 drawers of research data starting in 1992! Way back then I worked with a wonderful professor who was keen to hold onto all our raw data just in case we wanted to check or replicate anything. Its all been under lock and key but the time has come to bite the bullet and get rid of it. I found this to be not only nostalgic but also emotional – all those fantastic participants who gave us their time and insights.
Its also been cathartic because as well as filling bags for shredding I am smashing up discs of video footage. We filmed lots of people with a range of communication difficulties using Talking Mats to compare with the same conversations without Talking Mats to analyse any differences. So… another big advantage is that I’ve destroyed all evidence of my dodgy hair cuts throughout the years!!
I counted 41 completed projects going from the very first one in 1992 which was a demographic survey of people who used AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) systems in Scotland. In 1998 the Gannochy Trust funded the original project where Talking Mats was born Gannoch Final report. We then went on to carry out a wide range of projects which include working with people with Motor Neuron Disease, Stroke, Learning Disability, Children with Additional Support Needs, people living with Dementia to name but a few. The website contains the final reports on all our projects and in looking back at them I am also very proud of the good quality research the team here at Talking Mats has carried out.
Many others are now doing projects using Talking Mats but I leave it to them to organise their own GDPR and hope they also find the process worthwhile and rewarding and not just seen as a chore to be done.
We are delighted that ‘Talking Mats in German’ is now available in the Digital version and includes the latest technical and symbol upgrades. These upgrades are also now included in the English version.
We are very grateful to Prof Norina Lauer for sending us this blog which explains how ‘Talking Mats in German’ has been developed.
In 2016 Prof. Dr. Norina Lauer, a German professor for speech language therapy contacted Joan Murphy from Talking Mats because she was initially interested in the digital version for goal setting with people with aphasia. We found out that it would be interesting to have a German version of the app. So we started a project for translating Talking Mats into German. Prof. Dr. Norina Lauer managed the translation process. The project was financially supported by a German health insurance “BKK Dachverband” in cooperation with the German aphasia self-help organization “Bundesverband für die Rehabilitation der Aphasiker” (www.aphasiker.de). The translations were performed in a special scientific procedure to make sure that they match the English terms.
What did we do?
Norina Lauer and her colleague Holger Grötzbach independently translated the English terms into German. Subsequently these translations were compared and the differing terms were discussed until a consensus was reached. The agreed translations were given to a professional translator who only got the German words and the corresponding pictures. She re-translated the terms into English and these re-translations were checked by Talking Mats if they were in accordance with the original English terms. For those terms that did not match, the process started again until all terms matched the original English terms (figure 1 shows the translation process). This process was performed for all topics of the app. So we have the complete Talking Mats app in German now.
So what’s next?
Norina Lauer completed the foundation training and the accredited training in 2017. In October 2017 she performed her first foundation training for 6 of her SLT students. One of these students will do her bachelor thesis about the German app version in 2018. Under accompanying consultation of Norina Lauer the student will perform two workshops for people with aphasia. In these workshops they will practice doing Talking Mats and afterwards evaluate the app concerning its content and practical use. For the evaluation we are planning a short questionnaire and a focus group.
It has been a delight to work with Norina and we look forward to hearing the results of her student’s project.
If you already have the Digital Talking Mats make sure you upgrade to get all the new features. The German version with the upgraded is now available from the App store, Google Play (Free and Lite versions) or purchase the full version from our website .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We are very grateful to Marieke Lindenschot from the Netherlands for this great blog about finding out what activities children like and we look forward to hearing the next stage of her PhD.
For my PhD research in the Netherlands I use Talking Mats as a tool for my interviews with children. The children I interview vary in their communication abilities. Some are able to express their opinions and feelings very well, others are not able to communicate orally. As I was able to purchase the Talking Mats cards without text, I wrote down the words in Dutch in ‘children’s language’ on the cards.
Last week was an exciting week. I conducted the first pilot interviews with a boy of 12 years, a boy of 9 years and a girl of 8 years. They varied in their development. The first interview went great. The child could express which activities he liked, which he disliked and which were ‘so, so’ (in between like and dislike). With Talking Mats he could also tell me with whom he performed the activities and where. It was a fun way to get a lot of information in only 15 minutes! The child and his mother were very enthusiastic. He was able to tell a lot more then he usually does when he is asked about his activities! Unfortunately the other two interviews didn’t produce the same amount of information. The cognitive level of these children seemed too low to use Talking Mats. The boy didn’t understand the top scale ‘like’ and ‘dislike’, whereas the girl didn’t recognize the activities on the cards.
Overall we were very satisfied with these pilot interviews. The goal was to check if the interview guide with Talking Mats ‘worked’ and also to see for which developmental level this way of interviewing is possible. The pilot interviews gave a lot of information on these two goals. I am looking forward to the next interviews as Talking Mats showed to be a very helpful tool in finding out which activities children like.
Please send us any other examples of how you have used Talking Mats.
We are delighted to have Celine Josephine Giese, a 4th year psychology student from the University of Stirling, on placement with us. As part of her placement she has to write a series of blogs which she has kindly shared with us. This is the first in the series.
Talking Mats is a social enterprise, that has developed a unique communication system that aspires to improve quality of life for people who struggle to communicate effectively, such as people with a learning disability or a stroke as well as people who have dementia. People who are affected by communication barriers have difficulty articulating their needs, emotions and wishes, which can be particularly challenging for carers and clinical practitioners.
The interactive communication tool consists of an actual doormat and different sets of communication symbols that are placed on the Talking Mat. The communication symbols represent a scale from positive, medium to negative. Specifically, designed topical image sets are used to communicate how the person feels about activities, eating, support and so forth. In addition, they also developed a digital app version.
Talking Mats simplifies the communication process by breaking down information into small manageable chunks without the need for literacy. A range of training courses are offered to help individuals to use Talking Mats effectively.
The first day I arrived I was excited as I have not worked in an office environment before. In advance of the meeting I read a lot about their concept and ongoing projects to demonstrate my enthusiasm and interest. I was introduced to the team, who were all very kind and welcoming. During the first meeting, I was introduced to their communication system via a Talking Mat with a general interests’ topic to get to know me better. This was a great way to understand and see how their system works in action. We also filled out the placement agreement and discussed the project I will be involved in.
My role involves supporting Talking Mats in the analysis and impact of the training. For this I am looking at recorded Talking Mat outcome stories from trainees as part of a large-scale project in London Health Authority. I am recording specific details of the stories in an excel spreadsheet, such as the outcome for the patients which will aid the further development of Talking Mats and give feedback to the funders on their investment. Moreover, this analysis will shed light on the bigger impact Talking Mats has on the communication between patients and their carers.
The analysis will be useful in determining the impact Talking mat has on the person whose mat it is and on who used the mat i.e. the interviewer. In addition, it will provide evidence to the organisation of the effectiveness of using Talking Mats. My involvement in the thematic analysis will allow me to further develop excel skills and experience an office setting in a social enterprise, while expanding my knowledge on its origins, current use and future direction potential. Because the cases disclose patients’ personal details I have signed a confidentiality agreement. I look forward to learning more and contributing to the project as well as working with the team. The atmosphere is both pleasant and inspirational and I admire the concept of the enterprise and I feel privileged to be part of such a life changing organisation.