An exploration of the awareness of aphasia among retail staff and their training needs
Sansom, Laura Jane
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: There is an increasing emphasis on Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) providing intervention that helps people with aphasia (PWA) to functionally communicate. Aphasia has been shown to cause a poor Quality of Life (QoL) for sufferers, often due to societal barriers, causing those with aphasia to feel socially isolated. PWA want to undertake activities within society, such as visiting the supermarket. However, there has been no study which has explored supermarket staff knowledge about aphasia and any training requirement to help to reduce the communication barriers PWA experience. Aims: The aims of this study were to explore the awareness of aphasia among 29 participants who work in supermarkets. It explored attitudes and experiences and the extent to which current disability awareness training provided the necessary support. Individual preferences for improved training content and delivery were explored. Methods & Procedures: Mixed research methods were used. 25 participants completed an online closed questionnaire and 4 participants undertook semi-structured interviews. The closed questionnaires were analysed for central tendencies. The interviews were undertaken to develop a more detailed perspective on feelings and opinions related to the topics in the questionnaire. These were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Outcomes and Results: Findings from the analysis showed a low awareness of aphasia among participants. Every participant had encountered someone with communication disabilities at the supermarket. Feelings of confidence and knowledge related to facilitating communication were highlighted by many participants, which may be linked to a positive view of customer service training. In fact, data suggests that this knowledge was limited. The majority of participants would like further training on communication disabilities. Preferred training methods included a teaching session from a SLT and meeting someone with a communication disability, such as aphasia. Conclusions: Findings show that staff have a low awareness of aphasia and are generally ineffective at overcoming communication barriers in the supermarket, which could be contributing to social isolation for PWA. There is a willingness to undertake training to help the customers with aphasia. It is suggested that this training could be provided as part of the SLT role at a local level. This would help the supermarket staff to facilitate communication for PWA, with the resulting enhancement of the supermarket experience for both parties. Ultimately, this could help to reduce social isolation and increase opportunities for functional communication for PWA.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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