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Lisa Kelly is a Speech and Language Therapist
How did you go about getting your current job?
I applied for my job when I saw it advertised on the HSE careers in healthcare website and in a Sunday newspaper. I attended an interview where I was interviewed by two speech and language therapy managers and a representative form the HSE Human Resources department. The interview lasted approximately 30 minutes. I received a letter shortly afterwards to let me know that I had been successful in the interview.
Describe a typical day?
A typical day varies depending on the client groups that the therapist is working with. Speech and language therapists work with children and adults with speech difficulties and with language difficulties including understanding and using language. Possible client groups include clients with learning disability, physical difficulties such as cerebral palsy, genetic syndromes including down syndrome, delayed language development, stammering, stroke, head injury, autism, attention deficit disorder, cleft lip and palate, dyslexia, hearing impairment, voice difficulties, swallowing difficulties.
My typical day involves: I spend four mornings a week in a local primary school where there are two language units. These are small classes for children with specific language impairment. This means that they have average intellectual abilities but have severe speech or language difficulties. They receive their speech and language therapy during school hours several times every week.
In the afternoons and on Fridays I see children in two centres; the local health centre and an outpatient centre for children with physical and sensory difficulties. These children come to the clinic with their parents for assessment and therapy. The therapy I provide varies greatly depending on the client's individual needs. It may include: speech work, oro-motor exercises (these target the muscles involved in speech production), listening skills, play skills, following instructions, grammar, sentence production, conversational skills, and understanding of concepts.
This timetable can change as I sometimes visit schools to liaise with teachers regarding a child's speech and language programme. I also attend meetings to discuss and develop our service and I sometimes attend courses to learn new assessment and therapy skills. Working from a variety of locations every week requires organisation and forward planning. I have to plan ahead what I will need in each location and the children I will be working with.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
To assess, plan and carry out intervention programmes To collaborate with clients, family, carers and other staff in goal setting and treatment To maintain up-to-date and accurate case notes in line with professional standards and policies To manage own time, planning and prioritising tasks appropriately
What are the main challenges?
Some of the main challenges include:
When clients present with unusual and complicated difficulties. This requires resourceful, flexible thinking and the ability to research new therapy ideas. Long waiting lists. Balancing seeing clients with managing other aspects of work including attending meetings, keeping paperwork up to date, attending courses etc. Keeping up to date with new developments in therapy and assessment and expanding my skill base.
Job satisfaction is the best thing for me. It is very rewarding to see a client progress and do well based on your work with them. Also the working hours and annual leave allows me to enjoy other aspects of life including hobbies and traveling.
There is also a great deal of variety in this career. Every client we meet is different and a day's work is rarely dull. I also get the opportunity to liaise with and meet a variety of other professionals such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, teachers. I'm also lucky in that my work colleagues have also become friends.
What's not so cool?
Waiting lists and time pressures can create stress at timesThe behaviour of clients can be challenging at timesDealing with children and adults with difficulties can be emotionally upsetting. However the knowledge that as a profession we can help them is uplifting in these situationsOccasionally we come across difficult or upsetting situations that cannot be changed by our profession alone. This can be difficult.What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far? The rewarding events in this job happen on a daily basis when you see that the therapy you provided has benefited a client in some way. When you can discharge a client because their speech and language skills are age appropriate a sense of accomplishment is achieved. It is also rewarding when a good rapport and relationship is established between the therapist, the clients and their carers.