Projects related to health services research

Medical Synergies

MUK - New Service-Delivery Model for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices and Intervention

Scientific project leader: Prof. Dr. Lena Ansmann, Prof. Dr. Jens Boenisch

Operative project leader: Sarah Uthoff, Anna Zinkevich

Duration: 12/2017 - 11/2020

Funding Institution: Innovation Fund of the Federal Joint Committee

Project description:

People who cannot speak or who have difficulty understanding have complex communication needs (CCN) and may need alternative forms of communication such as a communication board or computers/ tablets with speech output. The current service-delivery of speech generating devices in Germany has a variety of problems. Some people with CCN are given inappropriate devices for example the device has no pre-stored vocabulary or it may be too difficult for the person to use. Additionally, there may be problems with servicing and maintenance of the device.

Therefore, the project MUK, funded by the Federal Joint Committee’s Innovation Fund, aims to test a new AAC service-delivery model for people with CCN. The aim of the project is to develop a new service delivery model to improve the communication skills and the quality of life of people with CCN. The new service-delivery model goes beyond the existing service-delivery contract, which so far involves quality-assured diagnostic and counseling on speech generating devices, by adding the following components: case-management, training and if necessary, intervention therapy in using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Three specialized AAC consultation centers across Germany will provide this new service-delivery model. According to the complexity of the new service-delivery model and the heterogeneity of the persons with CCN a formative and summative evaluation of the service will be undertaken. The formative evaluation will provide data based on qualitative and quantitative assessments of the stakeholders’ skills and perspectives.

The summative evaluation (a quasi-experimental longitudinal study) will examine the effectiveness of the new service-delivery model compared to the service-delivery in the existing contract and the standard service-delivery. To date, due to challenges with the data collection from people with CCN, case studies have been the main method used to evaluate AAC services. Therefore, this new study design is an important step towards developing evidence-based practice in AAC.

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