Local charity Treetops Hospice Care has trained up staff and volunteers in Makaton to better communicate with future patients.

Makaton is a unique language programme which uses signs and symbols alongside speech to enable people with speech difficulties to communicate and be understood. Treetops Hospice Care supports adults with life limiting conditions, and those who’ve been bereaved, living in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. The training was funded with a grant of £1,000 from Derbyshire County Council Public Health ‘Erewash 5 Ways to Wellbeing Small Grant Scheme’ which is managed locally by Erewash Voluntary Action. The grant has allowed 16 staff members and volunteers from the Wellbeing Space, and other departments across the hospice to undertake the training.

Excited about using our new skills in the future

Alison Hembrow, Wellbeing Space manager, explained the difference the training will make in the future: “Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life – from practical uses such as asking for a drink if you’re thirsty, to making friends and having fun. “Given the huge number of people who use Makaton signing to communicate, we know that many people with life-limiting conditions must be missing out on quality end-of-life care. We wanted to put this training in place in order to become fully accessible. It was challenging but also really fun and we’re all excited about using our new skills at the hospice in the future. “We believe that Treetops is the first adult hospice to offer Makaton signing. Our newly-trained staff will be providing Makaton signing at our forthcoming Light up a Life ceremony, at a Christmas Craft Morning and also for our first Christmas pantomime we’re putting on for patients!” More than 100,000 children and adults in the UK use Makaton symbols and signs, either as their main method of communication or to support speech. Users include people with learning or communication difficulties, and their families, friends, education and health professionals. Treetops services include Support and Information, Wellbeing Space, Hospice at Home nurses and Therapeutic Services including counselling, art therapy and complementary therapy.