Gina Alexander is the Director of Patient Opinion Scotland. Here is her blog on receiving £100,000 Life Changes Trust funding for an innovative new partnership project with Talking Mats. Together they will develop a pioneering tool to help people affected by dementia use their own voice to share their experiences of health and social care, and make real differences to relationships, services and culture.
“We’re thrilled to finally be able to spill the beans on our exciting new project.
“We are going to be working in partnership with Talking Mats, linking our two innovative technologies to bring the experiences and feedback of people affected by dementia into view alongside the feedback of others.
“Like Patient Opinion, Talking Mats Limited is a not for profit social enterprise. Their vision is to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties, and those close to them, by increasing their capacity to communicate effectively about things that matter to them. The award-winning Talking Mats communication framework is based on extensive research and designed by Speech and Language Therapists. It uses unique, specially designed symbols that are attractive to all ages and communication abilities and is used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social work, residential and education settings.
“The successful outcome of this work will see improved access to Patient Opinion and Care Opinion platform using the digital Talking Mats communication framework, where people affected by dementia can use their own voice to share their experiences and make real differences to relationships, services and culture, just as many others are already doing across health and care.
“We expect that this work will also result in greater inclusivity and empower others with communication or cognitive difficulties to share their experiences and be heard in an open and transparent way.
“This ground breaking work is being funded and supported by Life Changes Trust, People Affected by Dementia programme. The Big Lottery funded programme is committed to working with people living with dementia and those who care for them, investing resources so that individuals are more able to face the challenges before them, and can exercise more choice and control in their own lives.
“We expect the project to take 18 months to complete, and plan to include people affected by dementia, their families and experienced health and care professionals in the design, development and implementation stages. We’ll be looking for people and places to help us test and refine our process and we’d be delighted to hear from you if are interested in getting involved in that.
“We are so delighted to have this opportunity to be make further progress in making our platforms as accessible as they can be for people who want to share their experiences and feedback.
We’re also looking forward to working with the good folks from Talking Mats: we’ve had lots of fun on the journey so far!”