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Communication wins for Team Travis

Published 22nd March, 2018

A collaboration between Therapy Focus and partner organisation Interchange has helped Travis become a happier, more confident member of his local recreation centre.

Travis enjoys being active in the community and regularly visits the Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre. Travis’ support worker, Kieren Birmingham from Interchange, was supporting him to access the gym and pool, but found that certain triggers at the Recreation Centre were interrupting his planned activities and causing him distress.

Whist Kieren could identify the triggers, it was difficult for him, and staff at the Recreation Centre, to communicate with Travis when he was distressed.

“It was clear Travis wanted to exercise more choice about what he did when he attended the Centre,” Kieren said.

“So we worked with Travis’ family and Therapy Focus Speech Pathologist, Tania Muscat, to develop a visual communication tool that allows Travis to communicate his choices to me. I can also use the tool to respond effectively.”

Travis shooting a basketball while Tania and Kieran look on.

Pictured: Travis shooting hoops with Therapy Focus Speech Pathologist, Tania Muscat (L) and Interchange Support Worker, Kieren Birmingham (R). 

Together, staff from Interchange and Therapy Focus developed a collaborative approach that reduced gaps in service delivery and ensured Travis was better supported to achieve his goal. This collaboration saw the creation of ‘Team Travis’, which included his mother Janet, Tania, Kieren, staff from the Recreation Centre, and of course, Travis.

“Our shared strategy started with a simple initiative that was supported by the Centre staff,” Tania said.

“Travis was to enter through a ‘staff only’ door, as the cafe near the main entrance was initially a trigger for him. Next, the visual communication tool we developed was introduced.

This helped Kieren and the Recreation Centre staff provide Travis with more choices and a sense of control.”

“Very quickly the behaviours reduced and new routines were developed. The strategy was simple but very effective.”

Travis is now finding more enjoyment at the gym and pool, and has begun to enter through the same door as everyone else.

Interchange CEO, Justin O’Meara Smith said that collaboration between the two organisations is successful because both organisations share the same beliefs and values.

“We put the person at the centre of our work. We involve family, and others who know each person in our planning. We look at the adaptions needed to overcome barriers and we strive to help people with disability share ordinary spaces and be part of their community,” Justin said.

“The people we support benefit when we listen. Travis was trying to tell us something but we needed a better way to communicate with him. Therapy Focus helped us to do that.”

“Our collaboration draws on the strengths and talents of our teams and, most importantly, creates a shared plan that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Interchange works across the Perth Metropolitan Area to help people with disability be actively engaged in their local community.

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