Aphasia Community Partners
Our mission is to connect individuals with aphasia to individuals in the community to enhance social involvement and understanding of the strengths of individuals with aphasia. Ultimately, we hope this program builds lasting social relationships.
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a life-changing condition that affects not only communication, but also a person's work, recreation, friendships and family roles. Aphasia is often a chronic condition. People with aphasia, on average, have nine fewer social contacts and three fewer social activities than their non-aphasia peers.
Aphasia Community Partners is a program created by the Barkley Speech Language and Hearing Clinic to address the need for improving social engagement for individuals who have aphasia, not only when they attend speech therapy, but also after the therapy comes to an end. The community partners program is comprised of volunteers who have basic training in how to communicate with a person who has aphasia. After the training, a licensed speech-language pathologist attends the first meeting with the paired volunteer and the member, and is available to assist throughout the volunteer process.
Volunteers and members may meet as often as they agree, but are encouraged to interact at least once a week. Examples of community outings may include visiting local parks, getting coffee or ice cream together, volunteering together, going to a museum, or meeting over a lunch break.
Volunteers receive training that includes a brief introduction to aphasia, as well as instruction in strategies such as using written choices, gestures, slower speech rate, and use of the environment to support and reveal the competence of the person with aphasia. In addition to this training, volunteers must pass a criminal background check every two years through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in order to be eligible to participate.
Volunteers receive a monthly stipend of $15 to offset the cost of activities for both volunteers and members. Volunteers may help arrange transportation, but cannot provide car rides for outings and are encouraged to consider meeting at places within walking distance of the member's home.