New scheme to tackle isolation of living with aphasia

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like if we suddenly couldn’t communicate with the people around us anymore.

However, that is the reality facing many people in Mayo living with aphasia - a communication disorder that can occur following a stroke or head injury.

On Wednesday, the HSE is launching a new programme aimed at reducing some of the social isolation which can be experienced by people living with aphasia.

The Conversation Partner Scheme, which is up and running in some counties already, involves trained volunteers acting as ‘conversation buddies’ with aphasia sufferers.

Aphasia doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence or ability to think clearly. However, it does affect a person’s ability to speak or understand what other people are saying.

On Wednesday next (June 25 ), HSE Mayo Community Services and Mayo General Hospital Speech and Language Therapy Department, will host an Aphasia Awareness Day from 10am to 4pm in the lobby of Mayo General Hospital.

Alanna Ní Mhíocháin is a senior speech and language therapist at Mayo General Hospital. She said aphasia affects a significant number of people in Mayo.

“It happens very suddenly and can have a massive impact on a person’s life,” she explained. “The person with aphasia can work on their language skills but it is just as important to train family and friends on their communication skills – it takes two to talk.”

The awareness day will also mark the launch of the Conversation Partner Scheme.

Aisling Farrell, speech and language therapist, Claremorris, said they are very excited about the new scheme.

“We hope to recruit a number of volunteers who we will be training to communicate with people with aphasia,” she outlined. “These volunteers would then visit people on a regular basis and help them have a conversation.

“The Conversation Partner Scheme is up and running in other counties and has positively impacted the lives of people with aphasia. It has been found to reduce social isolation and support participation in community activities.”

Anyone interested in the Aphasia Awareness Day or the Conversation Partner Scheme can contact the speech and language therapy department on (094 ) 9042239.


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