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Additional useful information
This is an example of a patient story in which a parent, client or carer is asked about their journey through an NHS speech and language therapy service in Hertfordshire. Such information has been collected on behalf of the Trust in order to hear directly from patients about their interactions with a service and the ways in which it could be improved. A student speech and language therapist, Charlotte Fraser, conducted an informal interview with a parent on 1 March 2017 under the supervision of Mhairi Mason, speech and language therapist, to collect such data.
The parent outlined the child’s journey through the service, specifically focusing on her current phase at Tier One provision of SLT at a local severe learning disability school. Though she emphasised that her child’s journey had been long and difficult, she praised the service's continuing support and flexibility. She stated that she was extremely pleased with the current level of provision and felt that her child’s needs were being successfully being met and maintained.
Positive aspects of the service
The parent highlighted many positive aspects of the service, stating that though there was never a specific problem previously, the current SLT provision had been above and beyond what she expected.
Firstly, she highlighted that she always felt included in any decisions made concerning her child. She explained that there was always a clear path of communication and she was incredibly appreciative of the time dedicated by the SLT to ensuring she was kept up to date with her child’s progress. The parent expanded upon this, claiming that as a result she feels reassured and confident her child’s needs are sufficiently understood and being met at school.
Secondly, she commented upon the approachable nature of the professionals within the service, explaining that she felt able to contact them whenever she required reassurance or clarification. In addition, she was in no doubt as to their resounding dedication and care to improving the life of her child as well as their family.
Finally, she highlighted the professionals’ proactive nature as one of the best features of the service. She listed a variety of different activities that the SLT had specifically undertaken with her child as well as multiple activities devised and given to the agent of change (the school) to undertake. Furthermore, she was keen to highlight the inclusive nature of the SLT service as the professionals organised events such as Makaton Signing Workshops which provide relevant training for parents. Not only did she think these events were important for parents to attend in order to enhance their ability to communicate with their children, she said they had provided a sense of morale amongst those who attended. It was only during these sessions that she realised she was not alone as other parents were experiencing the same difficulties. Thus she explained that she was extremely grateful to the service for the opportunity to make friends with others in similar positions as it has recently been a great source of support.
Negative aspects of the service
The parent struggled to find a negative aspect of the service, though she stated if she had to provide an answer it would be in the form of a suggestion rather than a criticism of the current provision. As highlighted previously, she thoroughly enjoys attending events provided by the service and would ask for these to increase in frequency. However, she recognised the difficulty of doing this given the time constraints on SLTs as well as the inconsistent and low attendance levels by other parents.
Advice for future users of the service
The parent was pleased that the interviewer asked this question as she wished that she could have received advice from another parent in a similar situation at the start of her child’s journey. The first piece of advice she wished to share was the importance of patience – though she recognised each child’s journey through the service is different, she said that patience is vital to success as pressure on the child to achieve is minimised. Furthermore, she recognised that great change cannot occur overnight and thus it is a necessary, but difficult skill, to develop. She also said that she would encourage parents to be as pro-active as possible – whether this be through maintaining regular contact with the relevant professionals in the service thus feeling involved in the child’s journey or by attending parent meetings and training sessions. In doing so the parent claimed she had reduced her own anxiety and felt like a key part of her child’s progress. Finally, she wanted to encourage parents to develop or seek to find an effective support network as she stressed in order to cope, you must recognise that you are not alone in your struggle.