Home‎ > ‎Blog‎ > ‎Blog content‎ > ‎

'Words Up' - Supporting practitioners to embed changes in their clinical practice with Florence

posted 12 Mar 2018, 04:31 by Hollie O'Connell   [ updated 20 Mar 2018, 08:38 by Hannah Mountford ]
Sharon Smith 
Speech and Language Therapist 



13 March 2018 



I’m a Speech and Language Therapist working in the Highlands in a Universal Role in Early Stage.  This means that I have a role focussing on developing a service supporting language and communication development for all children in the early years up to Primary One stage.  My role is Highland wide, across the Highland Council area.

We know that high quality adult-child interaction supports children’s development and in the Highlands we have an initiative called 'Words Up': this is a universal approach to support the adults around the child to focus on developing high quality adult-child interaction, in order to develop the children’s language and communication skills.  'Words Up' uses key messages to support the adults to focus on and make changes to their behaviour when interacting with the children.

We provide a training session to practitioners (Early Years Practitioners, Teachers and Pupil Support Assistants) on the key messages and ask them to choose one to focus on and try to embed change in their everyday practice.  We know from experience that embedding change following training is really challenging, so we are always looking for ways to support this.  We chose Flo as a tool to support practitioners to make and importantly, sustain changes to their practice.  The interactions with Flo support the information they have been given in their training around the key messages, and practitioners are asked to rate how easy or difficult they are finding it to make the change: this helps practitioners to reflect on their learning and get support from our service when needed.

We initially found it challenging to convince practitioners to give Flo a chance, as she was new to us, and them.  Now we have received some feedback, the numbers of practitioners wanting to join in with Flo have increased and it is now easy to encourage more people, as we know that the feedback we’ve received so far has been very positive.  Practitioners reported that it has helped them to remember what they were focussing on and why they are working on a particular behaviour change.  We know from research that behavioural change can take years to embed in some settings, so using Flo as a tool to help do this is really useful for us.