Surprised, curious, grateful and chuffed to bits. These are just a few words that describe my emotions when I received a letter from The Encephalitis Society this week informing me that I have been nominated for a Exceptional Service Award by the family of one of my clients.
According to the Society’s website, Exceptional Service Awards are given to individuals and organisations in health, education and social care services who have really made a difference to individuals or families who have been affected by Encephalitis. “What have I done to deserve that?” I asked myself. “All I have ever done is my job.”
Craig* is in his early 20s and developed Encephalitis when he was 6 years old. The resulting damage to his brain has left him with a range of speech, language and interaction difficulties that have become increasingly problematic and intrusive as Craig has entered his adult life; impacting on his social inclusion, self-esteem and mental well-being.
So what have I done as a Speech and Language Therapist that has really made a difference to this young man and his family? What incredible intervention have I delivered? What have I done that is above and beyond the call of duty? Here is what the family say.
Susan…used to visit [Craig] at home, she always came to our house with a friendly smile and helped Craig with a speech he had to prepare…[we] would like to thank her for bringing her professionalism and cheery personality to our home and a listening ear.
What strikes me most about the family’s statement is that what they value the most is not the clinical outcomes but how I met their priorities.
Craig finds it difficult to attend appointments independently and his mother has 2 much younger children who she also needs to look after, so providing sessions at home rather than in a clinic was really important for this family.
Craig’s therapy focussed on addressing the social communication difficulties he experiences but what he really wanted to do was write and deliver a speech about his own experiences at an Encephalitis Society conference; so I supported him to do this.
It also appears that much of what made a difference wasn’t so much what I did as how I did it. A friendly smile and cheery personality are not clinical skills but they are valued by this family and that has made a difference too. It would appear that it is true what they say Little Things Make a Big Difference.
*Craig is a pseudonym to protect client confidentiality