Speech and language therapist

Katy JamesKaty James
Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, joined the Trust in 2003

What is your role?

I work three days a week within the Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) team at the Wolfson Centre Neurorehabilitation, which is part of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. My job consists of working with inpatients here, who I see one-to-one or in groups and assessing new patients who have been referred for admission. Assessments are multidisciplinary, with our rehabilitation consultant, clinical psychologist and/or other therapists and nurses.

Patients who come into the Wolfson and who are seen by the SLT team may present with a range of communication and/or swallowing disorders. These can affect speech, language, cognitive-communication abilities (the thought processes involved in communication, such as attention and concentration, planning and organising, self-awareness and confidence), voice, social interaction and relationships, confidence and swallowing. These can obviously then have a significant impact on life, work and families.

Additionally I have a senior role within the SLT team, deputising for the Principal SLT. This includes providing supervision and support to colleagues, and involvement in departmental projects such as clinical governance and audit to review the quality of services, running courses and writing articles to name but a few!

What does a typical working day look like?

My day is a mix of patient and non-patient activity. We timetable our patients one week in advance and as they all receive intensive input our days are generally very much on the go from the minute we arrive at work! I start at 8.15am, have time to make a quick cup of tea whilst I check emails and deal with some administration. I normally see patients from about 9am, depending on how quickly they are able to get up, dressed and have breakfast, all with the nurses’ help.

I see patients for one-to-one therapy, with family and friends or in groups; or in a pre-admission assessment with one of the consultants and another member of the multidisciplinary team (MDT). Every fortnight each patient has a goal planning meeting where the MDT, patient and family/friends meet to discuss progress and goals for the length of stay so I may have at least one such meeting a day. Fitted in are other meetings such as the weekly update, where the MDT meets to review ongoing issues and action points for each patient, a weekly departmental meeting, supervision, and in services.

I aim to leave at 4.15pm as I have a one year old waiting for mum to get home so the last 15 minutes or so is a bit of a frantic finishing off before I rush out the door and change hats!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

There are many things I love about my job; the contact with patients and supporting and facilitating their communication. When I am working with someone who has experienced changes to their communication, this can be very powerful, challenging and rewarding. It is really rewarding to see people change during their rehabilitation journey.

No two days are the same and dealing with different problems and always being stretched mentally is very challenging!

What level of patient contact do you have in your role?

Very regular; every day is made up patient contact to a degree.

What other members of the healthcare team do you work with?

Everyone! Occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists, doctors, social workers, secretaries and support staff, dieticians, assistants, music therapist etc.

What do you like about working for the Trust?

The experience and specialism within the Wolfson. The fact that the underlying philosophy and vision flows throughout the team and that the patient is at the centre of what we do. That we are providing a much needed, specialist service. That the SLT team is a dynamic and pro-active one and that we are more than just colleagues who come in to work to do our job and go home again – we share a passion for what we do. I really enjoy the friendships that have developed within the SLT team and the laughs we have despite how busy we are.

Why did you join the NHS?

It was just natural to look for a job within the NHS as this is where most jobs in speech and language therapy are.