Background Professionals who work in palliative care settings strive to provide person centred care (NICE, 2011). Finding out what is important to patients and families is core to this (Henry, 2015). People who use hospices often have specific difficulties communicating their thoughts and feelings because of advanced illness and emotional factors. Talking Mats is a visual framework which has been shown as an effective method to enable people to express their views, especially when their ability to communicate is compromised, for example because of cognitive, physical or emotional difficulties (Murphy et al., 2013; Murphy & Boa, 2012; Murphy, 2009).
Aims We aimed to introduce and use Talking Mats in a hospice setting and to develop a symbol set to support conversations relating to Advance Care Planning (ACP).
Methods Sixteen staff from the multidisciplinary team were trained to use Talking Mats and successfully used it with patients in the hospice. A sub-group of staff attended a workshop to discuss the potential use of Talking Mats to support conversations relating to ACP. Topics and options were agreed. These were then presented to a wider forum of staff from another Hospice for validation and checking. Three main topics to support ACP conversations were identified: Affairs; Care and Personal Values and are currently being trialled with a range of patients in the hospice setting.
Results Staff trained in the use of Talking Mats found that they could use it with a range of patients for a variety of purposes: getting to know someone; identifying goals; discharge planning and enabling ACP discussions.
Conclusion Talking Mats can be used by trained staff in a hospice setting to support people to express their views and help them plan for the end of life.
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