Qsign (aka QuickSign) Project

A project to teach intro AUSLAN signs to residential care staff and their customers to improve their quality of life

In conjunction with Brightwater and ECU, Phase 1 funded by Lottery West in 2021/22

Barbara teaching signing to a group of retirees

Back in 2019 BHA.wa was invited by the head of Brightwater Care Group, Jennifer Lawrence, to propose a relevant research idea for them to consider for their next Project. Barbara proposed the idea of care staff in residential settings using a few introductory Auslan signs to improve their communication with their clients. With the help of ECU researchers and their impressive PR services, Phase 1 was completed at the end of 2021.

WHY is Qsign a good idea? The main reason was that we already know at least 50% of Australians over 70 years have significant hearing loss. so, we reasoned, simple signing was likely to improve communication between carers and clients. AND learning a new skill was likely to be more engaging for their customers too. One common way our elders — and anyone with some hearing loss — to adapt to hearing loss is to do more lipreading. But this means being able to see peoples’ lips.

By 2020 COVID-19 had hit Australia, and suddenly face masks and social distancing were the norm.  So, reading your carer’s lips disappeared, and staying close enough to hear them was more difficult, with social distancing.

The Qsign Project became imperative to implement, as it meant Care Staff could learn some simple signs to communicate with residents and we envisaged that both the Care Staff and residents would be less frustrated. 

For example, imagine a carer visits your room, and AS WELL AS speaking words you may not hear properly, they do two signs.  If you missed their words, would it help to see the Auslan signs for Time and Drink, combined with their raised eyebrows?   Would you be LESS frustrated when you realised that you are being reminded that it’s time for a drink?   The Carer may go on to do the sign for Tea, which is very recognisable, with perhaps more miming of standing up and moving towards the Dining Room. 

Also your family might start using these and other introductory (Qsign) signs to communicate with you.

It turns out much of the introductory Auslan signing is pretty easy for novices to decode. For example look at the video where Barbara, acting like a carer who knows some simple signing, has a conversation with Mr Mophead one morning…

See the sample video…

Add Qsign logo, Auslan signs for Coffee, Tea

Captions to explain each of them…