NSLHD News September 10

Speaking up for Speech Pathology Week In a year where

communication has proved so important, speech pathologists across the district recently celebrated ‘communicating with confidence’ as part of Speech Pathology Week. More than 1.2 million people in Australia live with a communication disability and more than one million people live with a swallowing disorder. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by Australians with communication disability. Speech pathologist Beth Knox said it was important we don’t let current challenges like mask wearing and telehealth communications difficulty. “Communication disability is largely invisible, unseen and out-of-sight,” she said. affect communication with those who have a Inside the Adult Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Hornsby Ku- ring-gai Hospital is a room unlike other clinical rooms: mood lighting, teddy bears, sequin-weighted pillows and aromatherapy scents. Outside are massage chairs and iPads for selecting music – some of the most popular tools Occupational Therapist Amy Spears uses with her mental health consumers in their therapy. The sensory stimulation therapy aides are used to help consumers be calm and comfortable, as well as de- escalate highly anxious or agitated consumers. “Supplying sensory tools like these is about empowering individuals with coping skills they can take home with them,” said Amy. “The massage chairs are really helpful with acute patients and it is great to be able to offer

Staff sharing their #SPweek messages

“It’s important we remember to be inclusive and help those with communication difficulties to maximise their participation in the social, educational, economic and sporting aspects of community life.” Only 38 per cent of Australians with communication disability are participating in the workforce compared with 80 per cent of people without communication disability.

Speech pathologists assess, diagnose and treat communication disability, including difficulties with speech, language, reading and writing, stuttering and voice.

They work with Australians who have communication disability that may have been from birth, emerged during childhood, been acquired during adulthood or developed in old age. New sensations: Hornsby’s adult mental health inpatient uniT

Occupational Therapist Amy Spears

them a massage chair and see them physically relax.” But none of this would have been possible so soon without the help of an NSLHD Innovation Pitch grant. Amy applied for a pitch grant last year and while it did take some time for her to do the application, she said it was well worth it.

For any teams or individuals thinking of applying, Amy’s advice is: “It’s definitely worth it. It did take a little bit of extra work but the benefits are still going.” The next Innovation Pitch round is now open. For more details visit https://bit. ly/2DJyjcD or contact NSLHD- InnovationProgram@health. nsw.gov.au.



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