Two Glasgow speech and language therapists, who have developed a groundbreaking approach to training staff in supporting patients with complex communication needs, will present their work at the international Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Society conference in Toronto later this month.
Laura Renfrew and Janet Scott will speak about their development of a learning framework for staff and how it has been implemented within multi-disciplinary community rehab teams who work with adults.
The framework, Informing and Profiling AAC Knowledge and Skills (IPAACKS) is the only one of its kind in the UK and has been funded by NHS Education Scotland.
AAC offers different methods of communication with patients who struggle to speak, and can include anything from using pictures and gestures to computer technology.
People may use AAC if they have problems communicating as a result of a stroke, brain injury, or have motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy, autism or other conditions.
Laura works for the south sector rehabilitation service in the Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), and Janet is a consultant speech and language therapist at the Scottish Centre for Technology for the Communication Impaired (SCTCI) on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, have developed a tool for staff working with AAC patients to use along with their manager to recognise the knowledge and skill required for their role, reflect on their current capabilities and identify any gaps.
Laura said: “Staff have reported an increase in confidence, awareness and skill levels when working with patients who use or may need AAC.
“And this will benefit patients’ engagement with rehab staff will be able to support them to communicate and therefore help them reach their goals.”
Staff who took part in the training included physiotherapists, pharmacy technicians and admin workers.
Using IPAACKS, staff created individual and team skills profiles as well as learning and development plans based on skills gaps.
Jac Ross, who is NHSGGC’s lead on communication support for equality groups said: “We are committed to ensuring that all patients receive communication support which meets their needs.
“Laura and Janet’s work on AAC is an excellent example of ensuring equity for patients”.
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