Comparing the systems: working and studying overseas

Traveling for a year between school and starting university or between finishing university and starting work was and is not that unusual nowadays (the gap year). Traveling the world with a backpack or inter railing around Europe staying in hostels is a romantic and exciting idea. I myself spent a long 7 week summer inter railing around Italy with a friend in 2001. Lira was still the local currency and I was a young and carefree student, happy to survive on a diet of cheap bread, with an endless summer holiday that needed filling. Holidaying in a place is, however, a far cry from living it. In 2005 I moved to Melbourne and lived and worked and studied there. I was there for 5 years in total and I worked as a speech and language therapist for almost all of that time. I also did my Masters over there – through Flinders University.

Living and working in Melbourne – which is in the state of Victoria (Australia has six states- New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Victoria) was a great experience in all different ways. I worked at two large health networks over that period – Dandenong Hospital, part of Southern Health, and Royal Park Hospital, part of Melbourne Health. I worked across inpatient neuro-rehabilition, outpatients and homebased neuro-rehabilitation. My favourite was working in people homes. I got to meet so many people within the local community. I met Greek, Italian, Croatian, Lebanese, North African, Vietnamese and Chinese migrants. I met one pound poms who had famously traveled here by boat in the 50s, I met Australians who had been there for generations descended from explorers. I met a survivor of the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China and Australian indigenous people who were living in Melbourne. Working in another culture is a great experience. Not least that I got to understand the different social and political systems.

The health service in Victoria works differently to here. It is a public-private partnership. The unions negotiate the terms of employment for the health care professionals within the state. And each state is different. Consequently the networks employ everyone on these same terms- which are renegotiated every four years. Being a union member or representative as an allied health professional is usual in Victoria. In general patients are able to access acute and hospital care with no immediate costs to them. But to see a GP, or to have some non-acute services (e.g. maternity scans) you had to pay and then submit for a rebate through the Medicare system. If you didn’t have the means you could go to certain GP services who bulk billed the Medicare system, but this was not usual. Most of my friends had private healthcare and received tax rebates in compensation for this.

As a therapist working in an inpatient setting I was able to provide services in much the same way as I had done previously. Although in some outpatient and community settings we charged attendees a small nominal fee per week and we “sold” them the thickeners we prescribed. Selling thickener was a little tricky- occasionally I had to ask myself if someone was refusing to buy it because they didn’t have the money, because they didn’t have capacity or because they were making an informed decision not to follow my recommendations. As a therapist I was also happy to provide a much more evidence based and consistent service- I had annual leave cover when I went on leave and I had less constraints on the intensity and length of services I provided. We applied for funding to set up groups and delivered innovative multidisciplinary interventions for people with dementia.

I applied to do a masters in Clinical Rehabilitation at Flinders University and was able to complete the qualification via distance learning- much of the higher education post undergrad is delivered in this way over there. On this course we learnt a bit about delivering all types of services, even about telepractice to rural and remote settings. I found this a useful course to develop my clinical and research skills. I learnt about research methods and statistics. I completed a project supported by a local neurologist who acted as a mentor and celebrated my desire to undertake research.

When I returned to the UK I brought with me knowledge of a different approach to healthcare commissioning and delivering education. There are pros and cons to both the UK and Australian models. Neither are perfect but I certainly feel better off for having experienced both. Working and studying in Australia afforded me experiences that boosted my confidence and expanded my horizons. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. But, for now I am happy to be back in the UK, in London, at UCL.

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Mental health in academia: my mental fitness strategies

It is increasingly recognised that people in higher education and academia are at particular risk of mental health issues yet often feel unable to speak about these issues for fear of losing face and being considered incapable of doing their jobs or finishing their studies. This issue isn’t of course particular to academia, there are many industries where speaking up about mental health issues may impact on the persons professional reputation and perceived skills. In fact broadly speaking mental health issues are still frequently a stigmatised issue in our society.

But we are getting better at this. Slowly. There is more money being invested in health care services and research, albeit not enough. People are more willing to share their personal experiences both with employers and colleagues, as well as with friends. I was recently at a conference where the lead academic speaker for the day from the hosting department shared her rationale for becoming interested in disability. This revolved around her own mental health and a very personal experience with depression and suicidal thoughts. This was also an extremely successful and impressive individual, who spoke eloquently and emotionally on both disability and mental health. What a breath of fresh air.

I confess I cannot say I have experienced any mental health issues myself as an academic. I  have been a bit up and down  at various points in my life though – and this is probably very normal (e.g. during my time as an undergrad studying at UCL when I was struggling with grades, friends and various social challenges; oh and when I got pregnant and neither my husband or I were employed, we had just moved countries and were living on my parents couch). These experiences have helped me understand myself. These experiences have helped me identify where my threshold is and what maintains my mental fitness.

Mental fitness is a term someone mentioned to me just yesterday- they were suggesting that mental fitness is a term we could use to describe how we keep ourselves mentally well and healthy. We discussed that actually we all have to work at this. That mental fitness requires work, specific strategies and that these are different for each person. Not all that dissimilar to physical fitness. For me my mental fitness regimes includes:

  • Exercise: I love to run. Or do any kind of exercise. I suspect that is why i found pregnancy so difficult. For a long period I couldn’t run during my pregnancy. I now run about 2-3 times a week, and sometimes I swim or ride my bike or even do some yoga. Without making time for these i notice I can’t concentrate on writing or reading quite so well, I get fidgety and my husband would suggest that I also get very angry! So even when I have too much work on- I still prioritise this. As I know that Ill work better for having been for a run.
  • Family and friends: I do not feel guilty for spending time with them. I make sure that when I spend time with my family I am present. with them. Equally, I do not feel guilty about not spending time with my family when I am working. Although if I am honest I feel guilty about both- but i try to keep a balance in terms of time This seems to balance the guilt so it doesn’t entirely overwhelm me.
  • Doing work that I feel is important: I have found that choosing work that feels valuable and worthwhile makes me feel like I have purpose. Sometimes when I am bogged down with something technical and tricky such as an ethics application or statistics or IT issues I find attending a support group, giving a presentation really helpful. Speaking to SLTs and people with PPA who will hopefully benefit from my work makes it worth it.
  • Getting work done: I also find I have a few strategies to make me feel like I am getting something done. Both clinical and academic work can sometimes feel like your wading through an endless bog of sticky mess, you turn another corner and there is another mile ahead of you with no end in sight. So I have learnt to highlight the things I do get done so I feel a sense of achievement. I have to do lists with every small or large activity listed. On a daily basis I tick of what I have achieved and carry over ongoing tasks. This makes me feel like I am actually making progress and not sinking into a pit of despair.
  • Prioritising: I really like to write blogs. I really like doing presentations. I really enjoy networking. So I prioritise them alongside the harder stuff. I make sure every hard piece of work I do I reward myself or prioritise the work I feel I am better at. Even if it isn’t as ‘valuable’ or as ‘important’- it is important to me.
  • Diet coke: For those who know me well they will also know that I drink a lot of diet coke. I do so love diet coke, It makes me ever so happy. And although I know it could perhaps be bad for me- I drink it. And I love it. It provides me with quality of life. So my last tip is enjoy the odd sin! Even if my mum, my children and lots of friends and colleagues suggest it might be bad for me I feel no shame and no guilt when I crack a can in a meeting or a talk. Diet coke makes me feel better when nothing else can!

 

Doing it for the girls: being a women in research

I went to a wedding a few years ago and was chatting to a girl I kind of knew from Uni. She explained that she now worked in finance – fund management to be exact. Coincidentally she had come across my Mum – my mum is a journalist who writes about finance. This girl had approached me to tell me what a legend my mum is. She described her as a role model for all the women in the industry. If I am honest I was a little stumped. My mum is just, you know, my mum. But my mum started working, continued working and has a successful career in journalism since the early 70s.

My mum gave me some really useful advice before I went into my fellowship interview 3 years ago. She told me to “think like a man”. Initially I was rather surprised. Surely this is sexist! By thinking like a man we acknowledge a perceived difference. That somehow men are more likely to get these kinds of grants than women in 2018!? That men feel more sure of themselves. But it really did help. I recall waiting to go into my fellowship interview with four  men- all looking super clever in their business suits. I decided that the other people in that waiting room looked like they knew what they were doing, like they had it all together, like they were winners. I couldn’t decide whether to keep my cardigan on or off. What would make a better impression? Yet no one else in the room seemed to be worrying about anything (on the outside). Consequently I remember thinking oh well- I’ll just go in and go for it. I pretended to feel like the men in the waiting room looked. Perhaps simply encouraging me to pretend that I was someone else who knew what they were talking about (no matter what the gender) was the most useful part of my mum’s advice.

In general being a women has never held me back. I am a female with two sisters. I went to a girls school. Then speech and language therapy; a predominantly female profession. Perhaps this journey has actually given me an advantage. Having children and taking maternity leave is usual. Part time job roles are common. People often split posts – even managerial posts. I feel that the profession is well equipped for families- it is easy to continue developing a career and being an active parent (my sisters in law and finance have had to struggle somewhat more with this balance).

Before I went into research my colleagues suggested that this career trajectory wouldn’t be any where near as accommodating for these needs as working as an SLT. People did and still do say that doing research or further study whilst having children must be far too difficult to juggle. I have actually found the opposite. Doing this has worked extremely well for my family. Research is much more flexible- I can go to school assemblies, take my children to medical appointments and host play dates without taking any additional time off work. In fact none. I tweak my hours to suit my needs- I work in the evenings, in the car while they do their various extra curricular activities and occasionally at weekends if I want to.

And there are some wonderful female role models in my profession and more generally at UCL. Not least my very own supervisors- both very successful female researchers at UCL. The head of my department- a female. The women who built the building I study in- a female. The building itself having been named after two sisters who invested in the first women’s medical college which is what the building then hosted.  I feel ever so lucky, if I need to I now pretend to feel like they all look- strong and confident and clever. I try to think about what my supervisor would say or do in this situation. I try to think about the phrase that my head of department would use. I try to harness the drive that those first female medical students would have had. All these wonderful females to aspire to on my research journey.

Debunking the myths for future clinical academic SLTs

Image result for myths facts

I started my undergraduate Human Communication Sciences degree at UCL to become a speech and language therapist 20 years ago this September. When I tell people this they often ask “So, why did you choose speech and language therapy?” I sometimes give an emotional answer about helping people, and occasionally mention my cousin (who had started training to become a speech and language therapist but sadly withdrew from the course as she was diagnosed with a life limiting illness). If I am completely honest my mum told me to do the course. I think she thought it I would like it, and as a rather immature 17 year old I was surprisingly also very compliant. Thank goodness she directed me down this path.

 

Having made this decision I went straight from my A-levels to university. On graduating (four years later age 21 and still rather young) I recall a sense of overwhelming relief at finally leaving education- oh to be free at last! Free to be a real grown up with no homework and no guilt about needing to do homework ever! One of my peers on the course was considering doing a PhD – she hadn’t enjoyed her clinical placements but was academically a pretty high achiever. I somehow decided that this was the type of person best suited to academia. In my mind academics didn’t need social skills, but required incredibly high intellectual skills. I didn’t classify myself as possessing any of these per-requisite skills thus I felt I wouldn’t ever be appropriate for this high flying career pathway.

 

Another decade and a half later and I realise what my 21 year old self didn’t. Being an academic is just not that simple. They are stubborn, social and curious and I probably maybe do identify with that species. I am stubborn as hell, I like to do things – right through to the end. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I am a bit of a chatterbox and a giant nosy parker. This definition  also describes the qualities of many clinical speech and language therapists and as a clinical speech and language therapist I really feel there are so many transferable skills that can help you down the academic career pathway. Speech and language therapists are often pretty good at starting conversations, listening, probing, clarifying, exploring and building social relationships. These skills allow them to build rapport with clients, generate discourse and explore communication skills before setting goals to work on in therapy. Similarly academics use these skills to build rapport, find common interests, shared goals and making connections and networks to disseminate work and build future research opportunities.

 

 

Networks are one of the most useful arsenals in an academics weaponry. Being able to connect with others – potential participants, potential collaborators, potential presenters, potential mentors, potential supervisors, potential employers, potential funders, potential research sites – is a key skill. This can assist you in finding inspiration, developing ideas for a research project, getting advice and support, finding people to champion you, supervise you, fund you, employ you, encourage you, do research with you and for you, publish what you research, invite you to present your work and disseminate it to develop your career. You can always learn how to write properly – its getting the infrastructure in place for the research journey that is key.

 

I feel strongly that there are many clinical speech and language therapists who don’t realise what wonderful qualities they have and who could thrive and succeed as clinical academics. There is little to demystify some of the ideas around what an academic should look like and to become one in our profession. Open conversations on this topic could really benefit our profession. Katherine Broomfield started one of these conversations earlier this year on twitter that really evolved into a twitter-storm. The conversation highlighted that many academic speech and language therapists felt the same. Consequently Dr Abi Roper set up at twitter account to continue the discussion @ClinAcSLTs. This also led to a meeting at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy (RCLST) where we discussed the barriers and issues speech and language therapists face in embarking on a clinical academic career. Katherine’s blog outlines some of the plans we made to collate and bring our experiences together in order to bridge this gap.

Clinical academics in action! From left to right Dr Lotte Meteyard, Dr Abi Roper, Dr Jackie McRae, Jo Wallinger, Amit Kulkarni, and I am taking the photo (Katherine Broomfield is represented by the teleconference equipment in the centre).

We discussed existing resources such as the RCSLT Research Champions Network and ResNetSLT. We plan to link in with both and will be presenting at the forthcoming RCSLT Research Champions meeting in July. Dr Hazel Roddam from ResNetSLT is keen to work alongside us and has been a part of all our discussions. We have plans to continue blogging and spreading the word. Ultimately we hope to hold regular meetings for both clinicians and academics to come together to share their experiences. Debunking some of the myths could be a great starting point. For example: You really don’t need to be that clever to be a clinical academic. In fact, many of our clinical skills as speech and language therapists are great assets for academia.

 

By the way if you are interested in doing further study but you don’t know where to start- there is an event being held next week at UCL, hosted by the speech and language therapy department. The aim of the meeting is to aid clinicians in making useful links, providing helpful tips and demystifying the process of applying for these types of courses. Do come along and join us! I would love to see you there:

Doctoral and Postdoctoral Study at UCL — Information Session

Wed 16th May 6pm — 8pm

Information session for SLTs and AHPs who are committed to clinical research as part of their career and are considering further study at doctoral level (PhD) or who already have/are completing a PhD and are considering postdoctoral research opportunities.

What will I get out of attending?

Insider information on the NIHR schemes and other funding sources.

Hints, tips and the realities of applying for funding: an opportunity to hear from SLTs who are currently or have been funded by the NIHR to complete a PhD, and with SLTs who have other PhD funding.

Q&A session: get answers to your questions and practical advice from a panel of PhD students and staff.

Plus an opportunity to informally network with SLTs who are doing or have recently been awarded a PhD, and with staff with a range of research interests.

 

Sign up on Eventbrite:

https://tinyurl.com/yccmmvh3

 

For more information about MPhil/PhD study at UCL please see:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/study/pals-phd-and-doctorate-programmes/mphilphd-language-and-cognition

 

 

My Mad Dad: Distraction tactics and conversation strategies.

Hollingworth, R. (2018) My Mad Dad. Trapeze; Croydon, UK.

We now know there are more people living with dementia. Many of us have been touched by dementia in our own lives. But most people still don’t understand dementia. And if they see or interact with someone who’s communication is slightly inappropriate or who’s language is somewhat different they are still most likely to judge them as weird, selfish or rude. Dementia can masquerade, can disguise itself as eccentricity, fatigue, old-age; it is a hidden disability. The cognitive and communication difficulties aren’t like a broken leg or a bright red rash. You can’t see them. They are abstract and often intangible and thus difficult to understand.

As a health professional working with people with dementia and their families it can be difficult to support the people we are working with. We may have never been experienced the disease in our loved ones. And if we have, it is difficult to share these experiences when we are taking the role of speech and language therapist, nurse or medic. Yet people search for shared experience and understanding. Meeting other people through support groups can be extremely helpful. But there are very few written accounts of what this is like. This is why I feel the book My Mad Dad is so valuable. This sensitive, heart breaking and hilarious description of living with dementia is a first hand account written by Robyn Hollingworth about living with her father’s progressive illness and her mothers more sudden death. Robyn has published her story based on the diary she kept (age 25)  after moving, from London to Pontypool in regional Wales, to help her parents. The account starts just a few months before her mothers death, when her father has been living with diagnosed dementia for around four years (in his early 60s). It describes Robyn’s initial adjustment from London life (Camden in the naughties) to coping with her father. Her mother is diagnosed with a terminal cancer not long after her return home. The disease progresses quickly and her mother passes away, leaving Robyn and her older brother to care for their father and one another. Their father’s dementia quickly becomes significantly worse,  and he is admitted to a living facility. Robyn compares the deterioration in his health to a broken heart. Throughout the book Robyn intertwines real life events, with examples of detailed conversations between family members, her inner reflections and the narrative of her emotional turmoil.

This book resonated with me as a speech and language therapist, a researcher and a person. Not least that Robyn is exactly the same age as me, and lived in London and around the same time in the same area and my Dad sounds surprisingly similar in personality. But that so much of this book is about communication, what it means, how it is perceived, the value and the complexity. I had a moment where I wanted to do a thematic analysis on the book to extract all these themes properly and scientifically to emphasise this point.

Before I get carried away with a thematic analysis I just wanted to pick out a few bits from the book to really demonstrate the focus on communication and how Robyn eloquently describes the impact:

Robyn uses analogies to give an insight to living with dementia. Speech and language therapists also often find metaphors and analogies useful in discussion with people and their family members. These examples are so helpful in allowing the reader to empathise with the lived experience:

“I heard an analogy the other day; it was on the telly, I think, and a spokesperson compared the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease to a radio that tuned in and out, sometimes working, sometimes very clear and sometimes just fuzzy, completely impossible to decipher or understand.”

[pg 28]

“I sometimes think how it’s a little bit like Dad has been hypnotised- he looks exactly as he did, but really the person you knew has gone.”

[pg 59]

Breaking down the wall of misunderstanding around communication and mental health is so difficult. These barriers impact on daily life, and Robyn highlights both the resulting frustration and anger that can go with this:

“He doesn’t really have much to say, but just talks random shit to strangers, It can get embarrassing. Mum gets upset because people don’t instantly realise there is something wrong with him. You can’t instantly recognise that Dad has a problem because you can’t see mental illness. When you couple this with the negative stigma that most of society attached to mental illness, I can see where her problem lies, and I share her concerns.”

[pg 61]

“If someone tuts at him for standing in their way at the supermarket, I stare them right in the face, with my hand on my hip and my head on a tilt, and say, ‘I’m sorry, can I help you with something?’ How dare anyone hold anger towards someone who is unable to control their actions?”

[113]

One can’t expect people with dementia to recall conversational content, or to obey the usual conversational rules. These rules have been set by our society. But people with dementia don’t use, know or realise all of these rules. The rules are ‘held’ by the listener. When speech and language therapists work on communication we often expect people around the person with the communication difficulty to be able to change their own behaviour just like that. Changing ones own behaviour to accommodate changes in conversation is tricky, fatiguing and confronting at times:

“‘Where’s Mum, love? Has she gone to work already?’

‘What?’ I replied, in disbelief that last night’s chat was stolen from his mind and replaced with a great gaping hole of knowledge.

‘Where is Mum today? Is she is work?’ he repeated.

‘No Dad, she’s in hospital, remember.’

I really need to stop using that last word.”

[pg 78]

“‘Its your birthday today, Dad, remember?’

I hated the way I had started to tag ‘remember’ onto the end of every statement, when talking to Dad- he obviously didn’t and wasn’t going to. This was my problem, not his.”

[pg 82]

Being truthful or honest is another complex area. I have worked with people for whom constant re-orientation to the here and now may be incredibly distressing for all involved. And have little therapeutic value. It is not unusual that we recommend people validate the feelings, and interaction rather than constantly correcting the person. This can be an ethical challenge for many. I have attended numerous discussions with family and staff members where ethics and honesty have been debated in favour of meaning, quality of life and conversation. Robyn describes moving toward this. I am rather glad she addresses this. Often in a humorous way, other times factually. Not shying away from the reality:

“At one point he told me she had been away from a work trip and that the company expected too much of her. I agreed with him.”

[pg 88]

“Gareth drove us home with Dad next t him in the front and me and Mum, in her urn, in the back.

‘What you got there then, love?’ Dad asked. we had agreed best not to tell him and to keep the urn in its box, out of sight.

‘It’s, uh, just…uh,um,shall we go home via the lakes on top of the mountain?’

Distraction tactics – it’s not really lying, right?”

[pg. 159]

In summary I believe this book is going to be important in contributing to people’s understanding of the impact of dementia. In particular Robyn’s descriptions of hidden disability and the frustration that goes with communicating in daily activities will make a hidden disability more visible. I also hope that themes around communication and the dilemmas of identifying how to have a conversation with a loved one with dementia will be useful for readers, speech and language therapists and people with someone with dementia in their lives.

Thus it is also good to know that Robyn’s book has been reviewed by lots of accessible mainstream media:

https://www.metro.news/when-alzheimers-unravelled-her-dads-life-robyn-hollingworths-also-tore-apart/1021752/

https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/6119075/caring-terminally-ill-parents/

SLT career pathways: My friend wrote a book!

When I was young (around 10 years old) I decided that one day it would be great if I could write a book. I really wanted to write a story, to put pen to paper and know that other people might read my words. As I got older I realised that normal people don’t become book authors (or artists). It doesn’t “pay”. I also realised that lots of people had the same ambition as me, and like me, decided it wasn’t a realistic goal.

So we set about making other career goals- to become speech and language therapists. To get a job. To get a job in an area we felt passionate about. To become a band 6….7…maybe an 8. This career follows a straight forward pathway often toward management. But that really isn’t the only pathway.

Recently my good friend Rhian Grounds, speech and language therapist extraordinaire, wrote a book. She and I studied together at UCL many moons ago. She worked in paediatrics and specialised in autism. She was the first of my friends to get a band 8 role. She managed a large south London trust. She dealt with budgets and performance management.

And now she has collaborated with a mother of a child with autism to write an accessible and useful resource on supporting families with a child with autism at home. The aim of this book is to make ideas accessible and straight forward for parents- to think of practical solutions on managing life in the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, in daily life. This book is due for release on the 19th of April (end of next week) but has already attracted a fair bit of positive interest and attention.

I feel re-inspired about my profession whenever I hear about friends and colleagues achieving these amazing things- sharing their knowledge and endeavouring to support people with communication difficulties in any way they can. It also reminds me that there are a range of career pathways available for speech and language therapists – including working in the NHS, education, third sector organisations, private practice (both clinically and managerial), writing books, going into research, lecturing, working overseas and many more. I feel the need to spread the word about all the opportunities this career can offer beyond the most obvious. It can be exciting and interesting and you can fulfill those childhood ambitions in all sorts of creative ways.

How it came about: the forthcoming RCSLT MCA pages.

Some of the authors in action.

I am so pleased that the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy will be putting up some new pages (and a position paper!) on the role of SLT in decision making and mental capacity issues. It’s been quite a journey and the light is shining at the end of the tunnel. Let me start from the beginning:

Two and a bit years ago I submitted the manuscript for my last book on the role of the SLT in decision-making and issues related to the mental capacity act. One of the contributors- an SLT called Mark Jayes was also a fellow PhD NIHR trainee. His PhD focused on capacity and mine on language led dementia, and we both felt that our profession could benefit from more guidance in the area of mental capacity. Thus we contacted RCSLT to find out how to propose a new position paper on the topic.

Firstly we needed to complete and submit an application proposing the new guideline. This needed to evidence the relevance and importance of such a guideline. Once submitted we had a couple of conference calls with the team at RCSLT to discuss when and how to take the issue forward. Consequently a scoping meeting was planned to gain input from a wider group of SLTs and identify the breadth of the project.

The scoping meeting was held at the start of 2017 after RCSLT had advertised for interested parties. At this meeting RCSLT employees proposed the new mental capacity pages. The group agreed these sounded great but all attendees (there were about 10 SLTs from across the UK) felt a position paper essential to enabling clinicians to justify service provision and expansion.

Consequently an advert was published inviting applications for lead and supporting authors. The meetings to start writing the pages began in the summer of 2017. MarkJayes has been acting as lead author- putting together a wonderfully comprehensive and useful set web pages over a series of three meetings and numerous email liaison. The pages follow the RCSLT format but will include information summarising the significant issues relevant to SLTs, discussing the roles of the SLT, explaining key terms, case examples for discussion, providing links to useful articles, books and resources. The pages are being rigorously reviewed by a broader group of SLTs (and some other professionals including a lawyer).

We are now commencing work on the position paper. This doesn’t seem too complex or daunting now the web pages are being finalised. The position paper feels essential to clinical practice. Many SLTs report feeling unsure of their role in this area. These pages are being developed to increase confidence within the profession, demonstrate the breadth of our role and support service development.

The RCSLT web pages will go live (all things being well) in June this year. So watch this space – or perhaps watch the RCSLT website. But I will let you know, as I am rather excited about his project!