Reconciling the perspective of practitioner and service user: Findings from the Aphasia in Scotland study
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Law, J., Huby, G., Irving, A., Pringle, A., Conochie, D., Haworth, C. & Burston, A. (2010) Reconciling the perspective of practitioner and service user: Findings from the Aphasia in Scotland study, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, vol. 45, , pp. 551-560,
Background: It is widely accepted that service users should be actively involved in new service developments, but there remain issues about how best to consult with them and how to reconcile their views with those of service providers. Aims: This paper uses data from The Aphasia in Scotland study, set up by NHS Quality Improvement Scotland to identify the direction of the development of services for people with aphasia in Scotland. It examines the views both of those who provide and of those who receive those services.Methods & Procedures: The study integrated findings from a questionnaire to all speech and language therapists treating people with aphasia across Scotland with findings from focus groups with service users and aphasia practitioners. Outcomes & Results: Three themes were identified: (1) public and professional awareness of the impact of aphasia on the individual and their family; (2) current service provision and gaps in services; and (3) directions for the future development of services and barriers to change. Although the impact of aphasia is well recognized amongst most professionals (that is, not just speech and language therapists), considerable concern was expressed about the level of knowledge amongst professionals who do not specialize in stroke care and about public awareness of aphasia. Service providers indicated a shift in the model of service delivery of which the service users were largely unaware. Although the majority of speech and language therapists spend most of their time providing one-to-one therapy, and this is valued by service users, there is undoubtedly an emerging shift towards a focus on broader social function and the inclusion of the person with aphasia in supportive social networks. This creates tensions because of the existing pressure for individualized models of delivery. Concern was expressed by practitioners, although not echoed by patients, about the transition from the acute sector to primary care. Practitioners also expressed concern about the introduction of more recent services like NHS 24 and e-health initiatives, which rely on means of communication that may be particularly challenging for people with aphasia. Conclusions & Implications: The findings from this study indicate that although there are clearly common perspectives, the views of people with aphasia about services do not necessarily coincide with those of service providers. This is an important consideration when initiating consultation and highlights the need for clarity on the part of practitioners in identifying the aims and objectives of their ervices as far as people with aphasia are concerned. 2010 Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists.