I've been a busy bee this month, managing my normal caseload and also providing placements for students from Essex University.
I've always really enjoyed the supervisory aspect of my role as a Speech and Language Therapist and I am glad I can continue this is my independent practice.
I feel like I can give a little back at this time as so many student placements have been put on hold or cancelled completely.
As a fairly small profession that's high in demand, we need newly qualified therapists to be joining the workforce, particularly with the many health issues that are likely to occur due to or are related to COVID-19 and the chaos it has created in our healthcare system.
Student placements also provide me the opportunity to trial some intensive periods of therapy for my clients with the help of the students to support this.
I've had excellent feedback from my clients and I have noticed how beneficial this is for some of my clients that are able to participate in this type of work. It can make it more challenging for them to communicate with someone new and helps them progress more quickly with the extra input.
The students also keep me fresh in my approach with their access to the current literature and themes that they are learning with their lectures. It's a win win all round!
One of my recent cohort of students, Kate, has been brave enough to share her experience of an independent lockdown placement with me:
Having a clinical placement can be stressful at the best of times, but then add a pandemic on top of this, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was ready to embrace technology and work with Amy in her private practice.
An introduction to zoom wasn’t necessary, as all of my lectures had been online. But now it was time to experience delivering therapy.
Fortunately for me, Amy had set the patients up and they were ready to go!
After getting to meet the patients, it was time to start providing therapy. There’s a lot more to take into consideration when planning and creating resources online, for example - making sure that the patient will be able to see and understand what you’re asking them to do.
We forget how easy it is to convey messages face to face and how these might be lost over the screen.
But I managed to deliver sessions, introducing breathing strategies to help improve a patient’s articulation and I used a technique called ‘VNest’ which helped one patient produce an impressive 14-word sentence! Therapy also improved his conversations with his family.
The placement was a mixture of zoom sessions and face to face, which was great, as I still got to experience all the benefits of meeting the clients in person.
Seeing patients in their own home, has been something I have really enjoyed. This meant that therapy could be more unique and tailored to them and support them with their everyday life.
Having students and running her own private practice, meant that Amy could allocate time for us to deliver intensive daily therapy, something that may not be feasible in other settings. We also got to experience the new ‘normal’ for speech and language therapists.
I have learnt to embrace new technology and have learnt that you are still able to use resources and carry out assessments, like before, it’s just over a different platform, and thankfully, everyone was patient with slow internet connections and frozen screens!
Change is always feared until we get used to it and then it all seems “normal” and maybe for now, this is our normal as students.