Woman smiling using Makaton

Treetops has become the first adult hospice in the country to train up its own Makaton tutor to help staff and volunteers communicate with patients.

Ali Jordan, Deputy Wellbeing Manager completed the intensive training earlier this year. The training included learning 450 different signs and symbols of core vocabulary.

What is Makaton?

Makaton is a unique language programme which uses signs and symbols alongside speech. It enables people with difficulties to communicate and be understood.
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.
Ali explained the difference her new tutor status will mean to the hospice:
“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.
At Treetops, we want to be able to communicate effectively with everyone who needs our support.
"Some of the people we care for might be losing language as a result of their life-limiting condition, for example people with Motor Neurone Disease or dementia.
“I’ve been signing using Makaton for five years now. I had to do a lot of studying and exams to achieve this status so I’m really proud of myself. As a full-qualified Makaton tutor, I can now train staff and volunteers across the whole charity. I’m looking forward to sharing my new knowledge and skills.”

Supporting people living with dementia

Ali will be teaching Makaton in a new programme called ‘Watch My Needs’ designed to support people living with dementia.
“Both the person with dementia and their carer are introduced to signs and symbols to help to support their communication for as long as possible. This can reduce frustration and anxiety.”
Treetops Hospice achieved Makaton-friendly status in 2020 and is the only adult hospice to be achieve this award.