Aphasia is the language disorder that can affect listening, speaking, reading and writing after a stroke. Aphasia is a hidden disability, the impact is either ignored or underestimated by our society; yet for the 3,000 newly diagnosed people with aphasia in Ireland yearly it has a significant impact on every aspect of their lives. Peamount Healthcare’s Speech & Language Therapy (SLT) Department established a long term support group to provide hope to each member in overcoming their daily struggle with interactions and communication.
Due to the lack of community services for clients with aphasia and a significant number of requests for Speech and Language Therapy, Peamount Healthcare commenced SLT out-patient services in 2007. The clients were in the prime of life, had been working and supporting families; but were discharged into the community with limited or no services. Many continued to make progress with their linguistic goals but it was apparent they required psychosocial support to help with adjustment with living with long-term aphasia. Group therapy has been shown to be a cost-effective way of providing treatment for chronic aphasia and it ensures support for the long-term consequences of living with aphasia. For this reason Peamount Healthcare formed the ‘Living with Aphasia Chat Group’ in 2008. Group therapy gives opportunities lacking in one to one therapy and helps with the generalisation of functional communication. It provides an opportunity for group members to communicate with different people while providing a more natural communicative environment.
Objectives of the project
The Chat Group aims to promote positive living with aphasia by meeting the following goals:
- Increase confidence in communication both in and out of the group
- Increase participation in family and community life
- Reduce social isolation and build relationships
- Provide opportunity for successful meaningful conversation about topics chosen by the group
- Increase use of total communication strategies (using any means possible to get your message across e.g. speech, gesture, facial expression, drawing, writing, maps etc)
- Raise awareness of aphasia by educating group members and their families