Welcome to our Meet the Team series. Today, we’re introducing the Inpatient Speech and Language Therapy team for working age adults and older persons.
Made up of four qualified part-time speech and language therapists, the team works in different speech and language therapy teams across the Trust.
They work with anyone with a speech, language and/ or communication need and anyone who is experiencing difficulties swallowing. Working closely with inpatient colleagues, the team supports others to effectively communicate with patients.
The team looks at a patient’s level of understanding in terms of the type of words and sentences they understand and how many words they can process and remember. They also assess a patient’s emotional literacy, looking at how a patient expresses themselves, how they tell stories and what their vocabulary is like.
The team also assesses people’s eating and drinking to see if they are having any difficulties. This is to reduce the risk of a patient choking or developing pneumonia.
Based on the assessments, the team are able to provide care plans and offer support and therapy where necessary. They can support with capacity assessments, facilitate therapies with other members of the team and help people to understand discharge plans.
Amy Hird is the clinical lead for the inpatient team. Her job is to lead and coordinate the Trust-wide service and she also holds a clinical case load of the most complex communication and dysphagia cases across the working age and older person’s wards.
She is also responsible for coordinating and developing dysphagia practice and policy for the Trust.
Amy said: “One part of our job is to ensure patients are comfortable and improve their dignity and quality of life, as well as reduce their risk of choking and aspiration.
“Sometimes a patient might not be able to communicate or engage with staff and do things out of frustration. If there is a breakdown in communications between staff and a patient, we’re there to help.”
The team also provides dysphagia training and offers bespoke training to wards which raises awareness of unidentified speech, language and communication needs.
Amy added: “We are there to help a person understand what is happening and express their thoughts, needs and emotions during their admission. If there is a breakdown in communications between the staff and a patient, we are there to help.”
For Amy, the best part of the job is being able to identify when a person is having difficulties with their communication. “It’s very rewarding to be able to assess a person’s skills and needs and support them to access the right treatment and therapy which can lead to their recovery and discharge from hospital.”
The job does come with its challenges however. Amy added: “The most challenging part is the fact we’re a very small resource. Sometimes it can be hard to identify people who need our input.
“We have really welcomed the use of Microsoft Teams in recent months as we feel like we can be in two places at once!”