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