About the service
This service aims to empower people with disabilities, using techniques and technologies which optimise potential for communication and control.
ACT works with people with complex disabilities to develop ways to enable them communicate and interact with their environment, assisted by the use of electronic equipment.
The service explores how people might use:
- Electronic communication aids
- 'Low-tech' communication methods
- Alternative methods to control electrical appliances in the home
The team is made up of:
- Speech and Language Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Clinical Scientists
- Assistant Practitioners
- Environmental Control is the part of the service which allows people to control pieces of equipment in their home that they are not able to control currently, e.g. television, lights and telephone.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication addresses the needs of people with complex communication needs by introducing low-tech and electronic communication systems.
- ACT also provides Computer Access Assessments for people who are physically unable to use a standard keyboard and mouse. For patients with difficulty accessing and using equipment directly, an assessment may include exploring different methods eg switches, head pointers, etc.
What you can expect from us?
- We will first contact you by telephone; this will be the start of the assessment process.
- We may then arrange either a video conference or a face to face appointment, as appropriate.
- We will send you an appointment letter, which will further outline what you can expect on the day.
- Following the appointment, we will write to you with our recommendations.
- We will also arrange to deliver any equipment discussed with instructions and details of contacts for help.
- We will only arrange follow-up telephone or video appointments as needed.
Who is the service for?
- People of any age and diagnosis who cannot use speech or typing as their main form of communication.
- People who cannot use a standard computer keyboard and mouse, or devices such as TV remote controls.
- People may have a range of complex disabilities, including cognitive, behavioural, sensory and physical difficulties that may affect their ability to interact with their environment and/or to communicate effectively in face-to-face settings, on the telephone or in writing.
- People with a GP in the counties of West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
- People with a GP outside of this area who are interested ACT’s services should call the referral and helpline to make further enquiries.
What do we do at an assessment?
- Contact you by telephone first.
- Agree with you if we complete a face to face video appointment.
- Involve everyone who has a significant involvement.
- Develop an understanding about what the issues are.
- Identify the areas where specific help is required.
- Try out different techniques and equipment.
- Look at different methods to help the person access and use the equipment.
- Jointly agree goals.
- Arrange for equipment to be tried at home, school, day centre, etc.
- Make sure that the different types of equipment used are working together.
What happens after the assessment?
- A report is written by ACT and shared with both the person and team.
- Equipment is provided (as agreed at the assessment).
- Progress is reviewed regularly to ensure the equipment continues to meet the patient’s needs.
- Person and team are trained to use the equipment.
- ACT provides ongoing support and advice as necessary.
ACT is currently operating at a significantly reduced capacity due to staff shortages, but please continue to refer as normal. We have only been seeing people who meet the priority criteria below for the past two years but are accepting standard referrals too and placing them onto a waiting list to be seen in date order once capacity allows.
ACT are currently focusing on providing appointments to people whose referral is defined as a priority, in line with the following national service specification criteria:
- People who have a rapidly deteriorating condition.
- People whose existing equipment is broken.
- People whose physical condition has changed and who are unable to use equipment already provided by us.
- People who are exhibiting significant psychological distress.