Silence to be broken at Sue Ryder

PEOPLE with speech difficulties at Sue Ryder care are set to benefit from technology, which will help unlock them from a world of silence.Thanks to new computers and a special programme, residents who cannot normally speak very well, if at all are now able to get their message across.

PEOPLE with speech difficulties at Sue Ryder care are set to benefit from technology, which will help unlock them from a world of silence.

Thanks to new computers and a special programme, residents who cannot normally speak very well, if at all are now able to get their message across.

Although the programme at the moment allows only basic communication it is hoped that some people will eventually be able to pick out and make up full sentences from a database of words.

It is a huge breakthrough for some who are totally unable to speak and for others who can communicate but just need an extra boost.


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Sylvana Zivkovic is unable to communicate at all and waves and paints using her feet.

But with the new technology all she has to do is turn her head slightly to click a pad at the side of her head.

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On the computer screen there are different squares to click on to, one saying "hello my name is Sylvana," another saying "Hello Terry", which is her physiotherapist.

Once she has clicked on to the screen a voice will say the words that are programmed into it.

She can also click on to a square to get her favourite music to play.

William DaCosta also uses the computers but has a special keyboard that he can type on.

Eventually it is hoped that he will also be able to use email to communicate with his mum who lives abroad.

Anne Parmenter is the day care and activities manager at the centre, which cares for people with neurological conditions such as stroke as well as people who for example have brain damage as a result of head injuries.

She said: "It has to improve their self worth, the fact that they can tell people how they feel and make choices for themselves.

"One woman has pictures of her clothes on her computer so she can pick what to wear.

"It opens up a whole new aspect of life for them."

At the moment only three people at the centre use the programme but it is hoped to be rolled out to everyone there who needs it.

More resources need to be put into it so more staff can put the time needed to help with the programme.

The computers, which have been installed in the last few months, have proved invaluable and residents can use them to pursue their interests.

Mrs Parmenter said: "A lot of people here have specific interests but can't get out to take part.

"A couple of residents said they wanted to do courses so we are hoping that they can do something like that here."

One of the computers was donated by Alston's and around £2,000 was also donated by the BT charity staff box which has helped them set everything up.

n If you would like to donate any money to the centre contact Sue Doe, care centre fundraiser on 01473 295200.

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