Developing Communication and Independence
Here at Style Acre we recognise the importance of effective communication for all the people we support in a way that is accessible and meaningful to each individual.
Our Speech and Language Therapists (SLT) currently support over 50 adults with learning disabilities in many ways, depending on the individual’s needs. After an initial assessment process they may put together individualised pictorial timetables, checklists or charts to help with making choices, giving structure and helping understanding. They may set up a new communication device for an individual with supportive communication software. They prepare communication profiles and guidelines to help staff communicate in the most effective way possible with the people we support. They also set up signing, ‘Intensive Interaction’ or ‘Objects of Reference’ programmes. As well as working with the people we support, they also teach staff the most appropriate ways to communicate with each individual.
The team help to set up and run communication groups such as sensory communication groups for people with little or no verbal communication and social skills groups to enhance communication and increase confidence. They also work closely with our Technology Project Manager to ensure that communication is enhanced by a range of technology including sensory equipment, switches and communication aids.
Style Acre assesses each person we support to determine how their lives can be enhanced by technology or communication aids. Our assessments show there is a need for assistive technology and communication aids for some individuals and this specialist equipment would increase the quality of life for the people we support and improve their mental well-being. Our Technology for Independence and SLT Manager work together to ensure benefits to the individual are maximised by the use of the equipment and that our beneficiaries and their family and support staff are trained to use it. Some beneficiaries will have severe and complex learning disabilities whereby their only means of communication is through moving their eyes. Some will have mild/ moderate learning disabilities and the equipment will help with memory, learning and interacting with others.
‘Technology for Independence’ is designed to ensure the people we support have access to all suitable technologies that will enhance their lives and increase their independence. Our assessment tool seeks to identify technologies that will enable our beneficiaries to communicate better and our Technology for Independence Manager assesses 2 new people per month on average. Some will go on to purchase their own equipment following a successful loan from Style Acre and most will use equipment based at Style Acre and have regular supported weekly sessions. We currently run Technology for Independence weekly sessions for 17 people. The support being delivered includes sessions using Eye Gaze, SoundBeam and Omi-Vista. Several individuals have weekly sessions to develop their skills to use IT on touchscreen, tablet and the PC; this usually results in an ASDAN award. We also run a weekly Computer Club at our Didcot Support Hub which teaches people to use all types of computer and software programs, again leading to ASDAN awards