Talking Mats

Mission

To improve the lives of people with communication difficulties by increasing their capacity to communicate effectively about things that matter to them.

 

Main Activities

Talking Mats has developed an award-winning communication tool, based on extensive research and a rigorous design process undertaken by speech and language therapists.

The toolkit, which is available both as a textured mat with tiles or as a digital app, is an interactive resource which uses three sets of picture communication symbols – topics; options; and a visual scale from happy, through unsure, to unhappy.

Topics can include what a user wants to do on a particular day, who they feel comfortable with or how they feel about their living arrangements. Options relate specifically to each topic e.g. a range of activities could be selected for a ‘What to do today’ topic.

Users can then visually map out how they feel about a wide range of variables which affect their daily lives, which may otherwise be difficult to express verbally. By increasing their capacity for communications, Talking Mats provides users with a greater level of agency over their personal well-being.

The mats can be used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers covering health, social work, residential and educational settings. Family members and partners have also reported huge benefits of using the toolkit.

The structured and consistent format of Talking Mats makes it easier both for people with dementia to keep to topic and for the listener to follow the track of the conversation.

As well as continuing to develop a series of communications resources, Talking Mats provides a number of training programmes for individuals and organisations who wish to use the toolkit. Talking Mats also provide consultancy services, and look to partner with other organisations on research projects where possible.

Talking Mats board.

Emotions are plotted on a visual scale.

Business Model

Talking Mats has three main sources of income – the sale of communication resources; the provision of training courses and consultancy work; and research funding.

Individual resources can be bought from £125, with bundles available from £185. The complete set is available for £295.

Training sessions are available across the UK, giving practitioners and carers the skills to discuss and reflect on the use of the toolkits in real-life situations. Prices range from £190 – £360, with over 400 sessions delivered in the UK, as well as 18 overseas courses, in the 12 months to August 2017. Accreditation courses are also offered, allowing people to become qualified trainers within their organisation.

 

Social Impact

Talking Mats gives back a significant degree of control to users over their day to day lives, improving their well-being through a greater ability to communicate their needs and preferences. Ongoing research projects and consultancy services improve both the efficacy of their toolkits and the ability of practitioners and carers to utilise them.