LCHS Specialist Children's Services awarded Makaton Friendly status

2nd January 2019

Specialist NHS community children's therapy services in Lincolnshire have been awarded Makaton Friendly status by a national charity.

The service, which is part of Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust (LCHS), has been granted the title by The Makaton Charity in recognition of its efforts to ensure people who use Makaton feel welcome and able to use services.

Makaton uses signs and symbols with the spoken word to provide extra visual clues about what someone is saying.

LCHS's speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, along with their wider support teams throughout specialist children's services, use Makaton to support communication with young people and their families.

Speech and language therapy assistants Julie Appleyard and Lisa Janes are both licensed Makaton regional tutors who have led the drive to embed Makaton at LCHS. They announced the service's news in Makaton on LCHS's social media channels (@lincscommhealth).

"We are incredibly proud to have been recognised by The Makaton Charity," explained Julie. "People who have not yet developed their speech or have difficulty communicating should not be resigned to a life of silence.

"Using Makaton opens up a world of possibility for them and we are so grateful to our colleagues across our specialist children's services, who have been really enthusiastic about taking every opportunity to learn new signs and incorporate them as part of their daily work.

"The feedback we have received from the families we work with shows how it is making a real difference to their daily lives."

In addition to offering learning opportunities to LCHS staff, the trust offers Makaton training for parents and other professionals through taster sessions and workshops.

Staff members from across the whole of LCHS have also been joining in The Makaton Charity's sign of the week on social media.

Parent Lisa, from Bourne, completed a two-day Makaton course in November this year in support of her three-year-old son Roman, who has expressive speech and language delay.

Lisa said: "We had not really heard of Makaton before we started having speech and language therapy for Roman and thought it would be a really good idea to learn. Roman has very limited speech, speaks very nasally and struggles to understand. Using Makaton has allowed him to overcome many of his frustrations, such as telling us what he wants to play with or when he is hungry, and it's often those little things that make the biggest difference.

"It's not just Roman and I using it, our extended family such as his Nanny and Grandad are now learning signs and his school are sending staff members on courses too. It is hugely important for Roman to be able to express himself."

Sarah Drew, Makaton Friendly coordinator at The Makaton Charity, said: "We are thrilled to award Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust with Makaton Friendly status in recognition of enabling their staff to learn Makaton to support those with communication difficulties.

"The Makaton Friendly scheme, which recognises establishments of all kinds where Makaton users will feel comfortable, is going from strength to strength. We are working with schools, emergency services, attractions, retail and hospitality outlets, including many well-known brands. This ensures that the excellent work done by organisations such as LCHS continues within the community so that all visitors feel welcome."

Makaton Friendly status is awarded for a period of two years.

Details of forthcoming Makaton training sessions can be found on the LCHS website: https://bit.ly/2DxbC8Z