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Meet the team


  • Helen Wood
  • Sofia Nutall
  • Lisa Salton
  • Louise Oram
  • DCHS development team

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to your chosen theme?

We are going to address the challenge of how to get communication aids out of cupboards and into users everyday lives so they can interact successfully with their friends, families and local communities. We want to give users the chance to get more out of life and have fun and make connections.

It links to the themes by providing therapy input which is innovative in its format – linking families to support each other and work through an informal programme together with guidance and support from an SLTP rather than traditional input of a 1:1 appointment in isolation.

It addresses the barriers associated with using a communication aid – technical skills, practical ideas, psychological impact e.g embarrassment, grief for the loss of communication skills, rejection.

It addresses the barriers of loneliness and intergenerational interaction – young and old communicating with each other and enjoying it 😊

What does your project aim to achieve?

Project objectives:

1. to link young and old AAC users and their families

2. to design and deliver a programme of work which is supported by an SLTP

3. to get people excited about communicating

Improvements for the Participants:

1. improved technical skills

2. improved confidence and self-esteem

3. improved communication with their family, friends and local community

4. increased interaction leading to better general well being

Improvements for Commissioners:

1. a high impact, efficient and effective service

2. improved well being in the AAC users of Derbyshire


There are many ways to measure the impact of this work – qualitatively and quantitatively. This could be weekly rating scales, pre and post questionnaires, data re accessing health services etc.

The best sign of the project being effective would be to see people smiling and enjoying communication.

How will the project be delivered?

1. A speech and language practitioner (SLTP) will meet communication aid users and their families, explain the project, register their interest and assess their suitability.

2. The SLTP will then link communication users and their families into pairs or small groups.

3. The specialist speech and language therapist in alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) will work with the SLTP to write an 8-10  week programme for a cohort of 6  pairings/groups to work through which includes guidance, practical ideas and 1:1 input from the SLTP. The programme will be delivered to 3 cohorts.

4. There will be opportunities along the way for pairings/small groups to meet with other pairings/small groups e.g afternoon tea, Skype links.

5. The Trust’s development team are wanting to support this new and innovative idea

6. Evaluation of impact and presentation event for all involved which will include opportunities on how to take the project to the next stage …. a commissioned service.

What and how is your project going to share learning throughout?

We will write a fortnightly blog/up date which will detail what stage we are at and how people are feeling etc

Once the families start to meet each other they can input to the blog.

I think this project will demonstrate how with the right specialist guidance and support people and their families can manage their own needs. It will show another way to engage people and empower them through connection with other people in similar but different situations – not just for the communication aid users but the people around them too.

It will harness the golden joy that is often seen in relationships between the young and the old.

It will show how important connection and communication with others are to leading a good, wholehearted life.

How you can contribute

  • Any information of people's experiences with similar projects which would highlight things to avoid or things to try.
  • how and where for young and old communicators to link up

Plan timeline

2 Jan 2020 develop 8-10 week programme
2 Jan 2020 identify AAC users to contact and arrange meetings
2 Jan 2020 planning meeting of SLTP, specialist SLT and Q member
16 Feb 2020 first cohort start programme
16 Feb 2020 start Blog
8 Mar 2020 mid way meet up of pairings/groups
12 Apr 2020 event to evaluate first cohort
4 May 2020 2nd cohort
1 Sep 2020 3rd cohort
1 Dec 2020 final event to evaluate and celebrate the project


  1. I've spent more time thinking about my idea and through discussion with the specialist in AAC have decided now isn't the right time for this type of project as we want to get some basics in place first.

    I've really enjoyed the process of developing my idea and will keep looking at all the other ideas to see how they progress,

  2. Love and really think groups is the way forward. Much more enjoyable and less stigmatising

    I'm not clear if this is children with aids, doing family work. or if it is looking at integrating groups with a family member (any age) uses aids, or if there are separate groups for adults  - and is this adults who start using aids in later life

    What about looking at non-traditional settings and times? Modern libraries are often looking for great synergy projects to support. Really love the skype angle also

    It would be good to work up 'how much, by when'  aims

    think there is an efficiency argument - if money has been spent on aids that poor use is a real waste, so something commissioners interested in, and think that is one of the project aims

    Might be useful to think about, if it was successful, what could be the repurposing of SLT time available in Derbyshire.

    Good luck



    1. Thank you MaryCate your comments are really useful particularly that it isn't clear who the groups are intended for.

      the pairings will be a child who uses an AAC device and their family paired with an adult user and their family. I hope by bringing the two generations together they can inspire each other.

      I'm glad you also picked up on the poor use and what a waste it is, it breaks my heart. Communication aid users and their families need more support to make it happen in real life which is what my aim is for this project.

      we are hoping to you real-life settings so yes the library might be a good place to engage.

      Sadly there wouldn't be any repurposing of time because that time isn't there in the first place. Once training has been put in place and some basic support has been given then people are expected to continue by themselves. I think this is very short-sighted and much more support is needed to normalise the use of communication aids and use them to the full potential.

      i am working on the bid tomorrow so i would really appreciate it if you would look at it again next week and see if it is clearer and more focussed.


      thank you jenny

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