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Talking Mats Eating and Drinking resource – a review

The Talking Mats Eating and Drinking resource provides insight into what service users perceive their difficulties to be and can help raise issues that care providers are unaware of.

Gillian Callander, speech and language therapist wrote the following  review.

I have used this Talking Mats resource with adults with learning disability and it has been a valuable tool in discussing issues that they have with their eating and drinking and in providing a focus for discussion. It helps understanding of what can be an abstract and complex subject and can aid the planning of next steps.

There are 3 symbol sets included with the resource

  • Meals
  • Health
  • Things that might help

I have also used this resource with additional personalised symbols to discuss potential specific changes to eating and drinking and to gather information about how the service user would feel about this. There were blank symbols included with the resource which can be used for this purpose.

The symbols in this pack provide a range of subjects to be discussed and are clearly categorised. I have found that for the service users I work with that the “meals” set and “things that might help” have been the most relevant and easiest for discussion and the symbol sets provided ably support this. The “health” category is a little bit more abstract and is harder to discuss with this client group, particularly if this issue is one that may occur but currently is not causing any difficulties. However, it does provide a basis and support for this discussion and helps to tackle issues that are more complex and abstract.

I have found that using this Talking Mats resource has provided increased clarity during discussions with service users about eating and drinking and it provides service users with a more consistent method to express feelings about eating and drinking and the impact of any difficulties. It also supports me by giving a way to convey the information about concerns or potential changes to eating and drinking using the same method of communication as the service users, thus providing a method to enhance two way communication and facilitate discussions. It helps to ensure, that as far as possible, service users are able to input into the discussion about their eating and drinking and to make their opinions known. Using the Talking Mats has helped to provide evidence that service users do/do not understand the information being presented and can help decide outcome with regard to capacity for decision making.

Based on my experience of using this resource, I would recommend this as a valuable addition to your eating and drinking assessment tools.

Gillian Callander

We are holding a specialist Dysphagia and Decision Making training which includes the Eating & Drinking resource. Please follow this link to book your place

Or download this flier and registration form: Dysphagia and Decision Making flier