How communication aids help housemates build better relationships

A big part of moving into a new share house is getting to know your housemates.

Not only forging friendships, but also making your wants and needs known. If you have complex communication needs and live in a Supported Independent Living (SIL) home, communication aids are a great way to get your message across.

Communication aids can help you to communicate everything, from what you like to eat for dinner, to how you feel about the split of chores around the house.

Scope has broad expertise in Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Using a wide range of tools –from pictures to charts to alphabet boards and more – AAC helps you communicate. The best part? All these tools are easily customised and personalised to suit your lifestyle.

Photo of a chores chart

Some of the more popular tools used in share houses include:

Chores chart

Also known as a jobs board or duty roster, the whole household uses this, encouraging active participation. Use this chart to know who handles each job, like unpacking the dishwasher or folding the laundry.

Photo of a menu planner, with days of the week in the left side column and columns to the right labelled 'We're eating:', 'MasterChef;', and 'Chosen by:' with pictures representing food and photos of people in each column.
Menu planner

Use this with your housemates, selecting your meals each week from a set of customised cards. You can customise the board to your preferences – for example, assigning a master chef for each night!

Whos here today board
Who’s here today board

This board shows the whereabouts of different people, so you know who’s around the house each day. It can prepare you for unexpected changes, and you’ll be able to see if staff are away.

The above are just some examples of the many types of communication aids available.

How to use NDIS funding for your communication aids.

Communication aids in action

At their SIL house, housemates Anton, Colin and Shauna love using the communication aids, assisted by their House Supervisor, Rose.

Anton plans his weekly timetable on a chart and uses it to communicate with staff about what he wants to do each day. Just seeing that he’s got new activities to look forward to each day, supported by his team, is a real positive.

Shauna uses the weekly menu planner to work out what meals she wants to eat each week. In fact, all three of them use this planner – with each of them getting to choose their favourite meals on one night of the week.

Anton and Colin looking at new communication aids.

And Colin is using a personalised photo board to share his feelings and communicate what he likes to do each day.

For Colin, the introduction of the photo board has made a huge difference to his mood. As Rose notes, “Colin has gained confidence; he eagerly points to photos on his board. He loves to communicate and participate in day-to-day activities. During the lockdown, staff worked hard to understand Colin, find out his interests and provide him with the tools to communicate effectively. He is definitely a lot happier now and it is a joy to see.”