Monthly Archives: March 2015

Local councils on the journey to create more inclusive communication environments

Our local councils are such a central part of community life and it is so important that everyone has the equal opportunity to access their services. I have been approached by a number of councils recently in my region to work with them on their journey towards becoming communication accessible and it is excellent to see their commitment to creating more inclusive environments for people with communication difficulties.

Holding a Silent Morning Tea has been a great place to start with a number of the councils, including Brimbank City Council, Maribyrnong City Council and Hobsons Bay City Council. The Silent Morning Teas have been a lot of fun, but most importantly have resulted in increased awareness among the staff about what it can be like to have a communication difficulty, and it has got people brainstorming together about how to make their services more communication accessible.

councilSMT1 councilSMT2

Council staff getting into the spirit of the Silent Morning Tea

Training is a great ‘next step’ to build on staff communication skills, work on resource development (such as communication boards and maps) and make changes to the environment (such as reducing background noise) to ensure that everyone has the chance for successful communication. Hobsons Bay Libraries and Moonee Valley City Council have recently received training so that staff can start using these new strategies into their day to day work and Maribyrnong City Council, have developed customised communication boards for their different reception areas.

Staff-attended-training Communication-Boards-developed-for-councilStaff attending training  &  Communication boards developed for Council

One of the most important practices that the Councils are embracing is consumer involvement, and they are doing this in a number of different ways. A recent example comes from Moonee Valley City Council, who engaged local residents through a focus group where they asked for local residents with communication difficulties to give feedback on their experiences communication with council over the phone and then took immediate steps to put these recommendations into place.

It is very exciting seeing all the wonderful work that is going on with local councils at the moment while they continue along their journey towards communication access. Stay tuned for updates!

By Julie Kenny

Multi-media Profiling – Getting to know me

In the South Loddon Mallee Region, there is really a strong and vibrant community of communication coordinators and facilitators. They work in disability day and residential services and have been trained and supported by the Regional Communication Service to develop high level skills to support people with communication difficulties. They resource others in their services to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties.

Communication coordinators and facilitators have been exploring technology, particularly technology that can create multimedia profiles. To make a multimedia profile, a person with communication difficulties works with a support person to use video and/or other media to develop a personal profile that will help others get to know them. Michelle Nisbet, the Regional Communication Service Allied Health Assistant has helped with the technical back-up.

Cheryl Cooke, communication facilitator at a DHS house in Woodend says what a multimedia profile has meant for Hannah:

Hannah“Just a short message to let you know how well received the “Multi Media Profile” by the staff and Hannah’s Family. We decided to use Hannah’s own iPad to make it. I downloaded a program called “Pictello”. This was very easy to use. We could film Hannah and add voice to tell her story.

When I spoke to her family in Queensland, they were over the moon about the project, so when Hannah went up to stay with them for six weeks, they also got involved and took photos to include in the film.

The beauty of the Pictello and iPad was that, with some help, we were able to turn her holiday pictures into a video with music. In other important areas of her life, we supported Hannah and staff to speak about the importance of the pictures.

imageI put this onto a CD to send to Hannah’s family, so they can see the value of their input and see Hannah as she goes about her daily life, and also her 50th Birthday, which they were not able to attend.

This has been a very enjoyable and valuable project to Hannah, her family and others.

As other residents purchase iPads, I want to continue this, so each will have their own individual story.”

When Linda Nally, a communication coordinator, started to learn about and use Multi Media Profiles, she also recognised their potential:

“I intend developing Multimedia profiles for all of the clients here at Sandhurst Centre who have complex communication needs. I believe it is very important that our clients have these profiles to go with them when Sandhurst Centre closes next year.

The clients will have new programs and new people in their lives who don’t know them; what their behaviour means and what their needs are. A multimedia profile will help others to better understand them and to learn the appropriate methods of supporting them. More than just reading a person’s profile, a multimedia profile can better explain how staff need to assist. They get combined information such as vision and sound. These profiles explain things much more clearly.”

Meg Irwin – Southern Loddon Regional Communication Service