This is what I now know: communication is the key to reaching out to the speech and language therapy profession. Stating the obvious you may think, but not entirely. I have really realised the incredible value of my wonderful networks of friends and colleagues. These are what have enabled me to disseminate my survey on speech and language therapy and primary progressive aphasia so far…but I need to reach even more people. This is the link:
I used to think networking was nice; a peer support tool. I enjoyed the “we are all in this together feeling”. I met other like minded therapists with whom I could share my clinical woes. This was important to help me cope with some of my most challenging clinical moments; for example when I had to shoulder the burden of my patients emotions, when I felt broken by the unfairness that faced many of my lovely patients, when I felt the system let my patients and me down. Equally to share some of the stranger moments: community visits are a treasure trove of unusual experiences. And working with a large team of predominantly female colleagues can be challenging to say the least. I could go on. But these networks allowed me to blow off some steam.
I met some very knowledgeable speech and language therapists with whom I could have great clinical debates and discussions. I felt able to share clinical cases and contemplate complex clinical questions. Often this resource of “clinical experts” were more up to date than the latest test book sat on my shelf, and more easily accessible than those journals articles which many national health networks have little access to. These expert colleagues are another “evidence base” for me.
Gradually I found opportunities, built links with clinicians and academics, and was invited to collaborate on ideas, presentations and committees. It was these networks that enthused me to feel I could actually write my first book on assessing and managing progressive communication and dementia. I picked a friends brain (and speech and language therapist) on who to approach at UCL about furthering my research career to do a PhD. It was at a networking event that I was first invited to do the dementia lectures on the UCL speech and language masters course.
And now I am really reaping the rewards of these networks. I am asking friends, colleagues and acquaintances to pass my survey forward. These networks form the gateways to networks of other speech and language therapists. I am attempting to reach to the far corners of the profession, to speech and language therapists who have any experience of seeing people with primary progressive aphasia. I need to know what is happening, what are these patients like, what kind of assessments and therapy do speech and language therapists do with this group. This is a new area of practice and we do not really know what is happening out there in the real world. We need to inform our practice and use this for future teaching and learning. If you know anyone who may not have filled in my survey please pass it on and pay it forward. I am ever so grateful. Please see the link below:
You can follow the project on my blog or on twitter @volkmer_anna.
Or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.