Tag Archives: Talking Mats

How are your Speech and Language Therapy sessions going during Lockdown (Part 2)?

RCSLT COVID

In these challenging times during lockdown/COVID-19 restrictions we have had to deliver our Speech and Language Therapy sessions differently. In my role as a Speech and Language Therapist for the NHS Stockport Foundation Trust Buy-Back Service, I am gathering feedback from some of the children I work with, using the free RCSLT Talking Mats resource topics described in my previous blog  https://www.talkingmats.com/rcslt-lockdown-survey/

Many thanks to the Talking Mats-trained Teaching Assistants, Lucie Porteus (Woodley Primary School), and Dawn Wrigley (Romiley Primary School) for carrying out these sessions with the children involved.  Talking Mats is used in both schools as a tool to support children to share their views and opinions about a wide range of topics, which enables child-centred practice and target-setting.

In this blog, I wanted to share some real-life examples for each topic.  The topscale used for each topic is ‘Happy/ Not Sure/ Not Happy’:

Face to Face

Talking Mat SC face to face 2

For this mat session, Dawn took out the symbols that were not relevant.  The child was able to express that he was happy about the face-to-face sessions he had been receiving, during which the SLT has had to wear full PPE.  The child added a blank to say that he was happy about ‘Practising Sounds’ in particular, and added further information about ‘Activities’, sharing that he especially liked the penguin and fishing games.  The child shared that he was not sure about next steps, and so in future sessions I will ensure that these are made clearer.

Mats completed with other children on this topic have helped to explore the impact of use of PPE and a common theme has been that children have not been happy about the SLT’s mask, usually because the child cannot see the SLT’s mouth.  In our school sessions we have attempted to resolve this by having a staff member who is part of their school ‘bubble’ present, who is then able to model the speech sounds/language used by the SLT.  I am also aware of SLTs who have used video clips of themselves modelling speech sounds, as another potential solution.

Video

LH Video

This mat enabled the child to share information about how they felt about video sessions using the Attend Anywhere platform.  Lucie removed the options which were not relevant.   The child was able to communicate that he felt happy about the SLT, Activities, and Family/Carer Support – he was happy that his Dad was sitting with him.  The child was not sure about a few of the options such as time and number of sessions – and said that he wanted more sessions.  He was also unsure about technology/access and mentioned that ‘sometimes I see her, sometimes I don’t.  The child placed length of session on the negative side and said ‘I wanted it longer’.  This information has helped me to plan for future video sessions, as I had previously been keeping the activities shorter to help to maintain his attention/focus.  It is clear the child is happy about the activities completed and is keen for more – and longer – video sessions in future.  I am also aware that I need to be clearer when explaining next steps at the end of the session, which will include letting the child know that he also be working on the activities during his keyworker time in school, with a member school staff.

My Life

DHM TM 11.02.21 My Life 2

This child was able to share lots of additional information during the Talking Mats session, which helped to provide a clearer picture of how he felt about his life during lockdown.  For example, for ‘Mood’, he shared that ‘some days I am ok and some days I am not’.  For ‘Family’: ‘sometimes I fall out with my brother and my sister annoys me’.  School was between not sure and not happy because he said he “only likes Maths and topic and he really doesn’t like English”.

The child put Communication under ‘not sure’ and shared that “sometimes I struggle to talk because of that, and that makes me sad sometimes”.

The main action from this mat was to plan another Talking Mats session to submat ‘communication’, as when Dawn asked him if there was any he wanted to look at in a little more depth, he indicated the communication symbol and had said “that way I can move it from there to happy”.  Another option which would be useful to explore further will be ‘mood’, to find out what helps/ does not help.

Exploring the topic ‘communication’ further will enable the child to express which aspects of communication he is feels are ‘going well/ going ok/ not going well’, which will then result in updated SLT target-setting and intervention.

The RCSLT Talking Mats Survey is open until the end of June 2021 – please make use of these free resources so that the children and adults we are working with can have their voices heard about their Speech and Language Therapy Provision during COVID-19 lockdown/restrictions. Please send your feedback forms to: peter.just@rcslt.org

 Access your guidance and free resources here:

Symbol Sets: https://www.talkingmats.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Symbol-Set.pdf

Guidance: TM RCSLT guidance text – March 2021

Feedback Form: TM RCSLT TM feedback form

 

 

What is the impact of lockdown on access to Speech and Language Therapy? Part 1

making_decisions (1)

The recent RCSLT survey (https://www.talkingmats.com/rcslt_survey/) has been aimed at finding out how access to Speech and Language Therapy was affected by the first COVID-19 lockdown, from March 2020 to June 2020.  This has now come to an end, and the results are due to be published next month.

Given that we are now in our third lockdown as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to announce that RCSLT will continue to be gathering Talking Mats examples up until the end of June 2021.  These examples should be focusing on the current lockdown (January – March 2021).  We would love to hear about the responses you have been getting from the children, young people, and adults who access your Speech and Language Therapy services.  Remember it is possible to use these resources during remote sessions by holding the mat up to the screen.

The Talking Mats RCSLT survey sets comprise of 3 topics:

  1. Face-to-Face

For those of us who are able to deliver face-to-face Speech and Language Therapy sessions, we find ourselves continuing to don PPE, and use social distancing.  What has been the impact of this on those we are working with?   The topscale we recommend for all the topics in this set is ‘Happy with/ Not Sure/ Not Happy With’.

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2.   Online

 Many Speech and Language Therapy sessions are now being delivered online, using platforms such as Attend Anywhere/Near Me, or Teams/Zoom.  What has been the impact of this on those we are working with?

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3. My Life

This final topic focuses on the more general area of ‘My Life’.  What has been the impact of this current lockdown on the general quality of life experienced by those we are working with, and what are their thoughts for the future?  This can help to open up the conversation in relation to their communication and/or dysphagia needs.

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We recommend that those using this resource have accessed our Talking Mats Foundation training.   Ideally the mats should be carried out by someone other than the SLT to avoid any skewing of responses, however we understand that this is not always possible, and so if the SLT has carried out a session themselves, we would suggest that this is noted in the feedback form.

Watch out for the second part of this blog which will focus on providing some real-life examples for each of the above topics.  If you have any you would like to share with us, we would love to hear from you.

For further guidance on how to use this resource, follow this link: https://www.rcslt.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/TM-20201008-TM-RCSLT-guidance-text.pdf

 Find the feedback form which you can use to submit your responses to RCSLT here: TM RCSLT TM feedback form

 

 

The Talking Mats Digital Resource – New for Old

New DTM 1

 

We developed our Talking Mats’ digital resource way back in 2012 when the online world was a simpler place. When first launched our technology was cutting edge – we were one of the few applications that worked on both Apple and android devices as well as web browsers.  Over the years it has been used in many different settings; schools, hospitals, health centres, social work support and day centres to name a few.  Unfortunately, digital development does not stay static and what was cutting edge then is now becoming outdated and so we need to revise and produce Version 2.  We are delighted and excited to let you know we are launching our new digital resource early in 2021.

2020 has seen an unprecedented focus on digital communication and our web-based digital resource has proved to be invaluable.  Our Talking Mats’ community applied the web-based digital resource in conjunction with Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Attend Anywhere to allow remote contact when it was needed the most.  However, technology progresses and recently many of you will have noticed a message from Adobe Flash Player plugin when you access the digital resource from the Google Chrome web browser.  This is because Flash Player will become obsolete at the end of 2020, making it very difficult to use our current resource from the web.  We began upgrading this year to ensure the stability of the digital resource and we have also taken this opportunity to improve its functionality and include new features. Flash Player will hopefully work on other browsers and it looks like  its best to swap to Opera as a web browser   but we are still seeking guidance on this and will let you know when advice is clearer. However you can also hare your iPad on teams and zoom and guidance on how to do this is can be found here Using Talking Mats virtually with two devices update Jan 21

Downloaded apps will still work on tablets and iPads but Talking Mats will only offer support for a limited time in 2021.

We have been working with Dundee based media company, MTC Media, over the past few months to design our new digital resource and whilst it is not quite ready, we wanted to share some of the new features.

‘Can I make the mat on the screen bigger and less cluttered?’

‘I’d like to be able to use a card from Health in my mat using the Secondary symbols, but I can’t’

‘Can I upload my own photographs?’

These questions and comments are some of the most common that our digital users ask.

  • Our new resource is user friendly and intuitive with bigger text, a larger area to create your mat and the ability to hide symbols until you are ready to use them.
  • You can create your own library of topics from across the different bundles.
  •  Photographs can be easily uploaded and added to your library

New DTM 2

This is just a small teaser to whet your whistle and to end 2020 with something to look forward to.

The way we sell this new resource will be changing to a subscription model but we will keep in touch with you about this and all existing digital users will automatically be moved over to our new digital resource.  We are sure you will like it and want to stay with it.

Talking Mats Human Rights Day Twitter Chat – Let’s talk about Participation!

Advert 10.12.20

We are looking forward to our second Talking Mats Twitter chat on Thursday 10/12/20 7.30 – 8.30pm.

Join us to discuss and celebrate our new report ‘Can Scotland Be Brave’, which has a specific focus on children and young people’s participation.  Find out more about the report here https://www.talkingmats.com/new-report-to-launch-10th-dec/

The report will be launched by the Scottish Government on the same day, to coincide with Human Rights Day 2020.

Here are the questions we will be asking:

CYP Chat Q1

CYP Chat Q2

CYP Chat Q3

Grab a cuppa – or better still, a mulled wine and mince pie! – and join us to share experiences and ideas.

Remember to use the hashtag #TimeToTalkTM on all your posts!

Making Connections: Access Rating’s new App to promote Accessibility

Access Rating logo

Many thanks to Access Rating for this guest blog describing their services and free mobile app.

We were so pleased when Talking Mats invited us to write a post for them this week. There is such a great need for disability-related organisations to connect and share right now. COVID 19 has had a devastating effect on us all, but particularly on disabled people, who are facing even greater barriers across health, employment and access every day. A joined-up approach to delivering our services has never been so important.

About Access Rating

Access Rating Blog Photo

We are Access Rating; a social enterprise which seeks to create opportunities for disabled people to work, live and socialise with the same freedoms as non-disabled people. We provide a range of services, from employability support for disabled people, to access audits for businesses, to help them create more accessible venues and services.

Always striving to find innovative ways to promote access for disabled people, we have recently launched our Access Rating mobile app.  This simple online tool allows disabled people to rate their access experiences of any venue they visit in the UK. In turn, accessible venues can attract more disabled customers from their positive recommendations …whilst encouraging those a little behind, to follow suit.

That’s a lot of work, but we’re not alone; Access Rating is just one cog in a wider society of individuals, communities and organisations which support disabled people throughout their life journey. Each of us plays our part in empowering disabled people to reach their potential and exercise their rights as they choose. And the impact of what we achieve depends very much on those who support us in our efforts.

The ‘Purple Poundas an Incentive for better Access

The Access Rating app has the potential to be a game-changer within the quiet world of retail and hospitality accessibility. We say ‘quiet’, because it is. Despite current legislation and the tireless work of countless organisations, too many businesses still don’t understand what it means to be fully accessible.  And without an access-specific platform for disabled people to voice their opinions on these venues, there has been little incentive for businesses to get on board. The app hopes to change this by increasing visibility of good – and not so good – practice.

However, there is another factor which may be influencing accessibility in the right direction.

With the crushing impact of COVID19 restrictions, more struggling businesses are turning their focus to the value of the ‘Purple Pound’ – that’s the spending power of disabled people, their families and friends. And at £274 billion in the UK each year, and rising, businesses have a lot to gain; with so few accessible venues around, disabled people are likely to become loyal customers to those who actively seek to cater for their needs.

It is timely then, that our Access Rating app serves as an incentive for businesses to ‘up their game’. And the more venues that are rated, the greater the motivation for them to maintain their good name – or begin building it.

Connection is the key word here. Everything works better when we work together. And that’s why we’re asking you to help us spread the word, by rating the venues you visit.

Download the Access Rating App: Your Opinion really counts!

The Access Rating mobile app is free, easy-to-use and nation-wide in its reach. So whether you are disabled, live with, or work with someone who is disabled, we invite you to download the app directly from the links below, or from our Access Rating website. By taking just a few moments to rate any venue you visit –  be that a hotel, library or shopping centre –  you can help to make our society a more inclusive and enjoyable place to live, work and socialise for disabled people across the UK.

We thank Lois from Talking Mats for the opportunity to connect and share our news, and are delighted to have made new friends who share our passion for building a more inclusive society.

Visit the Access Rating website for further information or download the app directly from Apple and Android stores.