If staff are unable to communicate with their patients this can impact negatively on the patient’s healthcare. They may be excluded from decisions about their own care and their rights to informed consent may be violated. Conversation partner training has been shown to be an effective method of increasing the knowledge and confidence of communication partners of people with aphasia. Conversation partner training is typically delivered in person by a speech and language therapist trained in the programme. This may not always be accessible for staff who work weekends or shifts. Indeed this type of training requires significant time away from clinical work for both trainers (speech and language therapists) and trainees (typically nurses, medical and other healthcare staff). This study compares the effectiveness of two methods of delivering training – the first (Supported Conversation for Adults with Aphasia, SCATM, programme, Kagan et al., 2001) was delivered over two 90-minute face-to-face sessions using the SCATM materials. During these sessions the trainer provided information on aphasia and strategies that can support communication, as well as opportunities for role play and practice. The second programme was delivered by one 30-minute e-learning session and one 60-minute face to face session. Sixty-four health care staff were recruited and randomly assigned to each condition. Both groups demonstrated similar improvements in knowledge and confidence post education session. The e-learning package was found to cost less in terms of resources. The researchers emphasise the need to consider innovative online training approaches that cost less to ensure staff are able to support people with communication needs. This is a realistic goal in our current IT-savvy climate and research demonstrating its effectiveness is valuable.

Communication partner training for health care professionals in an inpatient rehabilitation setting: a parallel randomised trial.
Heard R, O’Halloran R, McKinley K.
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Anna Volkmer

UCL, London, UK.

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