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Changes in practice

Ysbyty Eyri Hospital, North Wales

After SLT support practitioner Ann Jones-Roberts attended 'Develop your communication skills' she came away feeling 'enthusiastic and positive' and realised she could be a better advocate for her client's and carers.

How Ann and Karen made a difference

Rhian Wyn (Head of Adult Services), Ann Jones-Roberts (SLT support practitioner) and Lowri Thomas (Speech and Language Therapist) with their 'Getting the message across' poster.

I have worked in the NHS for over twenty-five years, of which three years was spent out in Dubai working as a Sister on a trauma unit. I have a wealth of knowledge and experience of working with clients and families, as I am a qualified nurse and midwife. Unfortunately ten years ago due to a chronic back problem I had to give up my work as a Community Midwife.

Years later I had this desire to do something different that didn't involve any physical strain.  Low and behold, I found myself volunteering in the local Dysphasia Support Group, run by The Stroke Association. This was a whole new world and I found it so rewarding, even after years of working in the health service it brought new challenges.  When the post 'Speech and Language Therapy Assistant' was advertised I knew it was the right move.

Since joining the speech and language therapy adult team three and a half years ago, I have learnt so much from the wonderful team of therapists that I work with and from study days that I've attended. I work mostly independently, following the SLT's assessment of client's needs and the aims set out in their care plan. I work with people who have had a stroke, brain injuries, and other neurological disorders. I support clients as in-patients, out-patients as well as home visits within my catchments' area. Being bilingual is an asset as the majority of my clients and families are Welsh speaking.

Two mornings a week I attend the Communication Support Groups, run by the Stroke Association in two different areas where I give support to the volunteers. It is very rewarding when my clients attend the groups, to see how they have progressed from the initial arduous efforts in the therapy room.

Last year I was very fortunate to be able to attend a Connect training course; 'Develop your Communication skills and Make a Difference'. I came away feeling so enthusiastic and positive, it made me realise that I could be a better advocate for my client's and carers. New ideas for my work place were whirling around in my head and how we as a team could make a difference to getting the message across. Karen Leadbitter, a newly qualified SLT who was at that time, working two days a week with the Adult team attended the course with me. As we took the long train journey home from London to North Wales we were bursting with new ideas and how much we'd enjoyed our day.

In our next Adult Team meeting we fed back to the team our experiences on the 'Connect' course and the plans we had brainstormed together.

It is now nearly twelve months down the line and we are in the process of planning a pilot study at the Community Rehabilitation hospital where I am based. Karen and myself got together and designed a bilingual poster on 'Getting the Message Across'. The aim of the poster is to support health workers across the Trust and carers on how to communicate more effectively with clients who have a communication disability. Karen unfortunately has moved on in her rotational post from the Adult Team to join the Learning Disability Team, but is still in touch with our project.

Our next step is setting a date for a workshop to support staff on how to be better communicators, using our poster as a teaching tool. A questionnaire has been produced which we will distribute before and after the workshop. Hopefully the feedback on the effectiveness of the poster will be a positive one.
 
If our pilot study is a success our aim is to display the poster throughout our Trust and 'make a difference' in how we communicate.

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'As we took the long train journey home from London to North Wales we were bursting with new ideas'