Tag Archives: social story

Bridging The Gap

“What to do after 3 days of communication coordination training”

We felt this was a question that most of us ask after attending any training session…… “Okay, I have learned some new information, but how do I put it into action?

With this in mind we planned a 4th day as a Resource Creation Day. The primary aim of the day was to provide an opportunity for Communication Coordinators to come together to create resources to support communication in their workplace.

The workshop format was informal and allowed everyone to raise an idea, brainstorm the concept using everyone’s knowledge and experience, and then to create it. The simple concept of creating resources seems to be a major barrier to communication coordinators fulfilling their role back in the workplace. Often they feel unsure about where to start or fearing that what they create will not work.

The ability to meet with others who have completed the training and identify that the feeling of potential failure is quite common, reassured most that ‘having a go’ was the essential first step. For some, the day provided an opportunity to discuss their ideas before taking the plunge to put it together for implementation.

Having staff on board and “on the same page”, was identified as one of the key indicators of whether communication strategies would be successful. It was also identified that this is difficult to attain at times. To attend a training session and then go back to the workplace with knowledge and a concept is very different to going back to the workplace with knowledge and a physical object/support. It is easier to have staff on the same page when they can see what the strategy is and implementation can begin immediately

The rural context means the tyranny of distance reduces the opportunities for staff from a variety of settings to come together and share their knowledge and experiences. This 4th day enabled networking across day services and accommodation services in the development of resources.

So what did we make?

  • Weekly timetables for whole of service
  • Individual visual schedules
  • Writing of a social story
  • Individual annual planner
  • Development of communication profiles
  • Developing scripts for client interactions
  • Activity choice board

 

 

 

 


Would we do it again?

Feedback from participants indicate that we have helped to bridge the gap between learning a new skill and implementing that skill. Of the 14 participants, all of them have requested another opportunity to come together and make re- sources with guidance and a collective brain. Comments included:

“Extremely useful, I went away achieving 3 plans for communication.” “Discussing and sharing ideas as a team and working together was the most useful.”

“I would like to see this happen every 3-6 months as it will open up new doors for better communication between staff and residents.”

So, yes, we will be offering this day again over the coming year as a strategy to support our Communication Coordinators in their day to day work.

By Emma Douglas & Sharon Champion

Supporting the Supporters: Helping Martin enjoy the pool

Martin pictured with his social story book he uses when he goes swimming

A simple picture-based story has made Martin’s trips to the leisure centre a more pleasurable experience for him and those around him

The Regional Communication Service (RCS) supports people who live with communication difficulties and the people who support them.

To provide this support, the RCS uses an innovative capacity building model of service provision. This is different from traditional service provision, such as the medical model. In the medical model, the speech pathologist is the expert who assesses, provides therapy and resources. In the Regional Communication Service, the Speech Pathologist builds the capacity of staff and/or other significant people with a person’s life to ensure sustainable change.

A recent example of working in this way was a request I received from a staff member at Noweyung, an adult training and support service in Bairnsdale. We share an on-going professional relationship where we collaborate to provide communication strategies for people with disabilities who attend Noweyung. As a speech pathologist, I provide advice and feedback on communication strategies that staff suggest, thus building the capacity of the staff in the process.

The staff member described the scenario of Martin, an enthusiastic and outgoing man with a disability. He communicates using key word sign, some words (although often difficult for those who don’t know him to understand) and pictures. Martin loves swimming at his local leisure centre. He attends a swimming program with staff there to support him.

In attending the local leisure centre, there are many social rules that people observe – this includes an understanding of change room etiquette, when it is OK to get in and out of the water and where it is OK to swim, exercise or just play around. Staff supporting Martin understood that using speech alone could not communicate the many rules and expectations at the pool. So, it was decided to develop a picture-based story that looked at important information for Martin be able to understand the rules of pool behaviour. The picture-based story, also known as a social story, incorporated photos of Martin and simple written information about what to do and what not to do at the leisure centre.

The staff member took photos and drafted the story with the help of the speech pathologist from the Regional Communication Service. The book was then read to Martin who was able to recognise the photos and understand what it meant. He particularly enjoyed the section on when it was okay to jump in and to splash.

This book changed Martin’s swimming program completely. It increased his understanding of the behaviour that was expected. Staff noticed that Martin seemed more confident swimming at the pool and it also reduced many of the tensions that arose from misunderstandings that had previously occurred.

With the support and supervision of a RCS speech pathologist, the staff member was able to produce a simple picture-based story that made Martin’s trips to the leisure centre a more pleasurable experience for him and those around him. The added bonus now, being a staff member who has learned how to develop and implement a useful communication strategy.

By Mel Newcomen
Speech Pathologist
Gippsland Regional Communication Service