Speech therapist wins funding to develop communication tool

Mark Jayes of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust given £168,000 to develop, design and test new solution

Mark Jayes

A speech and language therapist from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded £168,000 to develop a new tool to support patients with communication difficulties to become more involved in decisions about their treatment and care.

Mark Jayes from Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital says published evidence shows that patients suffering with stroke, dementia, learning disabilities or neurological conditions such as brain injury can struggle to make informed decisions because of their communication difficulties.

This tool could help patients who have some sort of communication difficulty understand more information about their care and become more involved in decisions that directly affect them

Now he is set to spend the next three years developing, designing and testing a new tool enabling healthcare staff to provide accessible information personalised to meet individual patients’ needs.

The information could take the format of simplified text, photographic images or video materials, and could play a key role in helping patients with some form of communication difficulty understand more information when being asked to make decisions during their hospital stay. If successful, the tool could be rolled out across the NHS.

The project is being funded through the National Institute for Health Research’s Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship scheme, which supports outstanding individuals to become health research leaders of the future through funding, training and development of an identified research project. Jayes will be supported in his research by experts at the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research.

Published evidence shows that involving patients in decisions about their care leads to better health outcomes, so I’m delighted to have been awarded this funding

He said: “This tool could help patients who have some sort of communication difficulty understand more information about their care and become more involved in decisions that directly affect them. This could include decisions about hospital treatment and also about their living arrangements when they leave hospital.

“Published evidence shows that involving patients in decisions about their care leads to better health outcomes, so I’m delighted to have been awarded this funding.”

During the project, he will work with patients, carers and community-based groups to develop the tool. Once developed, it will then be tested and validated on the wards at the trust using groups of healthcare staff and patients.

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