Improving communication in health and social care

Posted: 27 June 2022, in Blog-News

It was a real honour to win the Health and Social Care Award at the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland in November 2021. We were up against such amazing social enterprises who do such inspiring work that we were delighted and surprised when we won.

Talking Mats vision is to improve the lives of people with communication disabilities. The judges at the award ceremony said we won because we had a very clear and well-articulated vision of where we are going. I’m grateful to our board and the staff team for all their work in shaping our vision and most importantly implementing it. For us the award recognises that good communication is at the heart of effective health and social care. Failing to address the communication needs of those that use health and social care services is highly detrimental leading to poor outcomes, jeopardising quality care, and can lead to misdiagnosis and compromised health.

Since winning the award we have launched our new website, this hosts the digital Talking Mats platform. The new digital Talking Mats includes many of the features that Talking Mats practitioners have asked for over the years. For example, it’s easy;

  • to include photographs in your mats,
  • make your own mats that can be reused and are relevant to your community and situation,
  • to save the report of a Talking Mats conversation and retrieve to reflect on change of views

Sales of the digital platform have been strong, particularly from health and social care organisations who are purchasing organisational licences that their staff can use to improve listening and communication with service users.

Our focus on partnership work with other organisations to address their specific communication needs is really important to us. The following are two examples;

  1.  We have launched the Youth Justice Talking Mats resource in partnership with the Manchester Youth Justice team aimed at young people who come in contact with the youth justice system. There is a high correlation between people who have language and communication difficulties and those who use youth justice services. This resource enables young people to reflect and have quality conversations  on what matters to them and what supports will help move them forward.
  2. A Podiatry resource has been developed in partnership with the podiatry service in NHS Fife. We have our very first Talking Mats and podiatry training arranged for September. Foot health is important to well being and there is a strong overlap with people who have foot problems with those who also have communication difficulties.

In addition, we continue to focus on delivering high quality training running both online and face to face courses. These courses build the confidence of health and social care staff in using Talking Mats to enable effective communication and support self-determination.

Winning the award was a great endorsement of our work  after a difficult time through the pandemic. We are very grateful to Social Enterprise Scotland for their support and also for the lovely video they commissioned as our prize from media co-op. It now sits in pride of place on the front page of our new website. If anyone would like more information about Talking Mats then please go and watch this video on Information about our training and  can also be found on the website .

Lois Cameron, Director, Talking Mats

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Applications for the 2022 Social Enterprise Awards Scotland are open and there are six categories to enter! Apply before 9am on Monday 18th July. Visit the Awards Website for more information and to start your application.