Summer 2003

Articles from the Summer 2003 Issue

The heart of our service.

McFarlane H. (2003)

How do we enable people with learning difficulties to make more choices, participate more in their community, and develop their skills and competencies? Although speech and language therapy has come a long way, the author is taking the next step and putting people with learning difficulties and their families at the heart of service planning for better lives in the community. The article explains why user involvement is not just the latest trend but an essential part of getting any service right: people with learning difficulties and their families are the experts about their wants and needs. The article also explains that they rely on the professionals to provide good quality and up to date information that is easy to read and understand. Although the voluntary sector offers a range of services, activity, information and advocacy, they have no direct access to the names and addresses of people with learning difficulties and their families and rely on statutory services for this information. The use of total communication as a practical response to the involvement of people with learning difficulties and listening to what they themselves say they want to know more about is emphasised.

I know what people need from my service – don’t I?

Levens V. (2003)

Medway speech and language therapists have been seeking users’ views for over 10 years and, more importantly, changing services as a result. This article shares the wealth of experience they have amassed from focus groups of past and present users of clinic services. For example, users views of waiting times for children to be assessed and treated indicated that families wanted to be seen as soon as possible rather than waiting for therapy to be available. A Users’ Views group has also been established with representatives from each therapy department (adults, paediatrics and special needs), and a termly Users’ News attachment has been added to the monthly department newsletter giving news, thanks for participation, and encouragement to everyone to gather users’ views in a variety of ways. Suggestions for bringing users in, and different techniques for gathering their views are listed.

I CAN make collaboration count.

Nicoll A. (2003)

This article gives an account of the 7th I CAN conference ‘Collaboration Counts’ held in London on 3rd March 2003. This covered collaboration between paediatric speech and language therapy services, local education authorities, schools, and parents. The main themes of the conference are described: get talking, share a vision, develop leaders, work with parents, and teach metacognitive skills.

Nothing more to offer?

White M. (2003)

When a person has a progressive disorder, what lies behind his/her social smiles and reassurances? How does he/she feel when solid, reciprocal social support networks are shattered by communication breakdown? This article draws on quotations from the author’s qualitative research which showed the deep despair and pain she found in this situation, and how this demonstrates the need for support, even when traditional therapy has ended, and why this should be actively facilitated and offered to clients.

So much to say.

Parker D. (2003)

In sharing his experience of motor neurone disease, the author wanted to raise understanding among professionals of the positive things they can do to support people affected by a progressive disorder.

Oats not so simple.

Speirs L. (2003)

The multidisciplinary team members were tested in their ability at person-centred planning and reflective practice when Robert, who already had eating and drinking limitations due to cerebral palsy, suffered dysphagia following a stroke at the age of 75. This article describes how, three years later, due to his motivation, his PEG had been removed and he was enjoying porridge again, and he was beginning a new life in a community placement near his family.

Disability and stigma: an unequal life.

Earle S. (2003)

Disabled people are half as likely to go to university, half as likely to get qualifications, and half as likely to get a job. The Disability Rights Commission campaign asks – is a disabled person only half a person? This article suggests that a ‘cure and care’ approach can inadvertently contribute to the process of disablement, and explores ways in which barriers of inequality can be broken down while at the same time playing an important role in treatment and rehabilitation. Definitions of disability and social models of disability are discussed as well as the concept of disability as a form of social oppression and stigma. The implications for speech and language therapists are discussed.

How . . . I put users in the driving seat.

All aboard!

Auchterlonie A. (2003)

From her position as Director of Afasic Scotland, the author takes a personal view of some of the obstacles we need to negotiate to bring parents and young people with speech and language impairments on board and into the driving seat of their treatment.

Passing the test.

Higginbottom C. (2003)

The National Autistic Society encourages its therapists to focus on the changing needs of its young clients, free from the constraints of the National Health Service. This article describes the framework, SPELL, developed by the Society for understanding and responding to the needs of children and adults with autistic spectrum disorder. This stands for Structure, Positive (approaches and interventions), Empathy, Low arousal, and Links. Each aspect is briefly described, and the privileged role of the speech and language therapist in assessing, observing, facilitating and communicating with these children is noted.

Where do you want to go?

Yardley C. (2003)

People with aphasia are handed the keys by Speakability, along with training, maps and navigational support. This article describes how Trustees and staff have been actively engaged in trying to expand the opportunities for people with aphasia to voice their needs and interests.

My top resources.

The 10 top tips for better conversation listed are from people living with aphasia who have attended Connect roadshow day events in Bristol and Cornwall. These roadshow networking and information events were set up in response to a consultation with over 100 people living with aphasia in the South West of England.