Speech pathologists should offer support and training to family/ carers of people with aphasia to become skilled conversational partners.
Reference: Simmons-Mackie et al., 2010
NHMRC level of Evidence: I
Rationale: For family members/carers who are ready, conversation partner training should be provided. Research suggests that people with aphasia may be more able to participate in conversation with a skilled, supportive communication partner (Simmons-Mackie et al., 2010).
Communication Tips for Caregivers of People with Aphasia:
- Be a conversation partner, not a therapist
- Set up the environment to ensure good communication (e.g. good lighting, minimise distractions, relaxed atmosphere)
- Speak at a normal rate (don’t use “baby talk”) with pauses at phrases and at the end of sentences
- Use strategies. Writing down key words may assist in comprehension
- Get things going by providing choices (e.g. Are you talking about dinner tonight? Or about your birthday party at the weekend?)
- Be willing to accept any type of communication. In addition to speech, respond to gestures, writing, drawing, different intonations or expressions or using of a communication notebook or board.
- Set aside a time at least once per day to have a pleasant conversation. Perhaps while having morning tea, or after dinner at night. (Hinckley, 2003)
- Supporting Partners of People with Aphasia in Relationships & Conversation (SPPARC) Lock, S. Wilkinson, R. & Bryan, K. (2008). SPPARC is a resource specifically designed to provide clinically effective tools to work with people with aphasia and their communication partners. The SPPARC manual consists of a manual, CD and DVD and provides practical resources to provide support and conversation training programs, conversation assessment and treatment materials and video extracts of everyday conversations which can be used as a resource.
- Supported Conversation for Adults with Aphasia (SCA) Kagan, A. Black, S. E., Duchan, F. J., Simmons-Mackie, N. & Square, P. (2001). SCA is an intervention approach specifically design to help people with aphasia express their feelings and opinions in a way that makes them feel appreciated and heard. SCA is a program which uses a set of techniques which aims to improve conversational interaction through body language and gesture, drawings, pictographs in addition to spoken and written words.
- Learn more about Supported Conversation for Adults with Aphasia (SCATM)).
- Self-directed learning module.
- Hinckley, J. (2003) Becoming a Communication Partner, Stroke Connection Magazine, American Stroke association.
- Kagan, A., Black, S. E., Duchan, F. J., Simmons-Mackie, N. & Square, P. (2001). Training volunteers as conversation partners using “Supported Conversation for Adults with Aphasia” (SCA): a controlled trial, J Speech Lang Hear Res, 44(3), 624-38.
- Lock, S. Wilkinson, R. & Bryan, K. (2008). SPPARC: Supporting Partners of People with Aphasia in Relationships & Conversation, A resource Pack, Bicester: Speechmark.
- Simmons-Mackie, N. Raymer, A., Armstrong, E., Holland, A. Cherney, L. R. (2010). Communication partner training in aphasia: a systematic review. Arch Phys Med Rehabil, 91(12), 1814-37.