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Enabling frail older people with a communication difficulty to express their views: the use of Talking Mats™ as an interview tool

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The aim of the present study was to obtain the views of frail older people with communication impairments using an innovative interviewing method, Talking Mats™. People with a communication disability are often omitted from qualitative research studies since they cannot respond to the more traditional methods of interviewing. However, their views are important and they may, in fact, have additional insights because of their communication situation. The 10 participants in this study were frail older people with a range of communication difficulties with causes including stroke, dementia and hearing loss. They had all recently (within 6¬†months) moved into care homes. Each participant was interviewed using Talking Mats™ to obtain their views on four aspects of their life: activities, people, environment and self. The findings are presented in a visual way, and the four life themes are discussed with reference to the different participants. Many insights were gained, such as the participants’ views of the activities which they like and dislike, and the views of some of the people in the study about their nursing home environment. The advantages of the Talking Mats™ as an interview method for research, practice and policy in the care of frail older people are described. The study concludes that Talking Mats™ is a useful and enjoyable method of allowing frail older people with a communication disability to express views which they have difficulty conveying otherwise.
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Keywords: communication disability; frail older people; quality of life

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, 2: Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling, Stirling, 3: Scottish School of Primary Care, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, 4: Bradford Dementia Group, University of Bradford, Bradford and 5: University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

Publication date: 01 March 2005

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