Monthly Archives: November 2015

The road to communication accessible health care – Royal Melbourne Hospital’s journey

I would like to take this chance to congratulate Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Clinical Centre and Community Therapy Service receptions areas, as they have just been awarded the Communication Access Symbol!

I have been working alongside Royal Melbourne Hospital on their journey towards communication access and have seen their commitment to ensuring that their staff and environment can effectively support ‘everyone to get their message across’.

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How did they do it?

  • Training – Client services staff from Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Clinical Centre and Community Therapy Service received training with tips and strategies about how to create a more inclusive environment for people with communication difficulties, with a focus on face to face and phone contact (including using the National Relay Service)
  • Resource development – Customised communication boards were developed for the reception areas of the Clinical Centre and Community Therapy Service, that use a combination of visual supports including text, pictures, photos and maps
  • Raising awareness and valuing consumer input – A Silent Morning Tea was held at Royal Melbourne Hospital in October, which is International Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness month. This included an excellent presentation that was delivered by a Royal Melbourne Hospital health care consumer who uses AAC (an iPad with a speech generating app) and involved a chance for the staff to ‘learn different ways to communicate over tea’ and have a small experience of the challenges faced by people with communication difficulties
  • Sustainability – Royal Melbourne Hospital have set up a sustainability plan to ensure that staff skills and service resources are kept up to date

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Lauren, a Speech Pathologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital, shared some tips for others embarking on the communication access journey…

  • Ensure you have the support of all key stakeholders involved prior to commencing
  • Involve the staff you are training in developing some of the content for the communication resources as they are the ones experiencing the questions and trying to support consumers on a day to day basis
  • It takes time to develop resources, but once they are developed they are easy to keep updated
  • Encourage the staff to role play using any communication supports you develop, so that they are familiar with them and can relate to people who may need or want to use them
  • Use current or past consumers to help provide feedback and be a part of your sustainability processes

Staff from Royal Melbourne Hospital shared the following feedback about their communication access journey

  • “I found the training really informative and useful”
  • “I really enjoyed the silent morning tea –it was really interactive and good to be creative with how to get your message across without talking”
  • “I liked hearing from a consumer during the silent morning tea about her experiences of using a communication device”
  • “It’s been great to recognise that the admin teams are an essential part of the clinical teams and that we are all working together to support our clients”

If you would like any more information on how to become communication accessible, or for access to training and resources, you can visit our ‘contact us’ page to find details of your local Regional Communication Service.

For more information about Silent Morning Tea, visit

– Julie Kenny, North West Regional Communication Service

Nillumbik Health Celebrates AAC Awareness Month

nillumbik-health-logoNillumbik Health is embarking on the 2nd phase of its project to become Communication Accessible. To alert more staff to this process, and to celebrate AAC Awareness month, we held a Silent Morning Tea on Monday October 26th.

About 20 people came to the morning tea, and fully embraced the spirit of the event in their willingness to follow the “rules” and not speak. People used a range of strategies, such as natural gesture and facial expression, writing with pens and paper provided, alphabet boards and texting on their phones.

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Some people used some signs and finger spelling, often learned years ago!

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People used key word sign and picture boards to ask someone to get them a drink and something to eat…followed by a game of Silent Bingo.

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There were a number of communication aids on display and participants took away stickers and books.

Overall it was a most successful event, with participants saying that they learned more about what it is like not to be able to speak, and the range of communication strategies available.

– Libby Brownlie
North-West Regional Communication Service

Keeping in touch with the church

StJohn-logoSt John’s Anglican Church in Bairnsdale has been working with Scope to ensure the church community understands the needs of people with disabilities. People with autism and little or no speech indicated that they wanted to attend services but found the experience difficult and overwhelming.  The Rector of St John’s, Rev Tony Wicking, and Ms Von Dubbeld, a youth volunteer, developed a range of ideas and supports the church could use.  Von researched Churches around the world for ideas around modifying services and supporting people with additional needs.  From here Von began planning and developing ideas which resulted in two information days and a monthly “in touch” service.

information-sessionThe information days (one in May and one in October) focussed on running information sessions across a range of topics. This was supported by the Regional Communication Service and the Autism Case Consultancy position.  Session provided a range of different workshops covering topics such as “what is autism”, sensory processing, communication strategies and social skills.  This was advertised across the area including local radio with anyone from the public welcome.  Both days had great attendance with over 80 people attending overall; the group included teachers, day service staff, parents and interested church members.

in-touch-sessionThe monthly “in-touch” service began in May 2015, and attendance continues to grow. The service has been changed to ensure that the language is simplified and that the service provides experiences in different senses. There has been an attempt to focus on one experience at a time, for example, baking bread together or crushing grapes.  They have also changed seating ensuring people can sit how they like and move as they need.  Visual pictures are used to show the progression of the service and a social story to familiarise people.

church-puzzleIt has been exciting to work with the passionate and energetic team of St John’s. It has been their energy and dedication that has enabled these exciting days to occur.

– Gippsland Regional Communication Service