Guidance for Professionals

This information will help professionals understand the process of MND Scotland's communication aids loan service.

 

Our service aims to provide loans to those who are, or are becoming, communication impaired, while statutory services seek funding for equipment to meet that person’s needs. We do not have a full range of devices, although we are slowly expanding our holdings.

Types of equipment.

The types of equipment we hold are:

  • iPads, Laptop and Tablet computers
  • “All-in-one” computers
  • Tobii Eye Gaze cameras
  • HeadMouse-type cameras
  • SPECS switches
  • Voice amplifiers

More examples can be found here.

Our iPads are provided with either Gridplayer, Clarocom or Predictable software, and are operated by touch screen.

All of our laptop and tablet computers have either Windows 7 or Windows 10 operating systems. Normally they are supplied with software to support Eye Gaze or HeadMouse as required, and with Firefox web browser, Open Office, and either Grid 3 or Tobii Dynavox’s Communicator 5. Firefox is set up to allow the user easy access to online TV, radio, newspapers, books from the Gutenberg Project and other services, such as social media, Amazon and Netflix. We also include the Cereproc Scottish voices Stuart and Heather.

While we may provide a device to aid communication, it is rarely a complete solution to the person’s needs. For example, we are unable at present to lend wheelchair-mounted devices or devices to hang from rolling mounts, due to the wide range of possible configurations we might need to accommodate. We are also unable to securely mount the laptops and all-in-one PCs that we have available.

Where a patient needs help accessing their own PC for communication purposes, we can lend an Eye Gaze, HeadMouse or switches with associated software to operate those devices. Due to the costs of licenses for specialist communications software, such as The Grid or Tobii Communicator, we are unable to provide these for installation on a users’s own PC, however we can provide copies of free software that do similar things; such as “Balabolka” or “Gazespeaker.” We can also advise on the accessibility, Eye Gaze and speech options built into Windows.

Your role

Normally we would lend following an assessment of the person’s needs by the Scottish Centre for Technology for the Communication Impaired (SCTCI), or a similar organisation, or a suitably qualified and experienced Speech and Language Therapist (SLT).

Legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 placed a duty on health boards to supply a communication aid to people who require it. This legal obligation took effect from March 2018.

The range of equipment on the market is much greater than the range we hold, so we are very much a stopgap to keep the individual communicating until their prescribed equipment is provided by the NHS.
We will take a request by email from yourself or the MND Clinical Specialist for your area. We will send you a Loan Request form to complete in order to understand the person’s needs and we will likely wish to speak to you directly to try to understand how best we can help.

Usually we would set-up the equipment and software to meet the person’s needs and then have the device couriered to you so that you can deliver it to the patient. Most of our equipment is “plug and play” and for something more complicated, we would arrange to talk you through the process of assembling the equipment by telephone.

If your patient is not communication impaired (or becoming impaired), and does not meet the criteria for which a statutory service would provide equipment, help may still be available.
If the patient wishes to use a computer for email, social media or web browsing, and is no longer able due to restricted limb movement, then we may be able to help through the loan of alternative access equipment and software. Applications should be made through a member of the Care Team.

In addition, MND Scotland offers grants which may be able to help, each of which is judged on its individual merits.