What Counts?

Apologies for my recent silence – October has been a busy but very productive month for raising the profile of Speech and Language Therapy in mental health settings.

The month started off with 2 conferences in Edinburgh for Allied Health Professionals from across Scotland, the UK and the world. I was pleased to have a poster accepted for the Scottish conference and honoured to be asked to present a workshop at the International conference. My topic for both was person-centred care and I shared the outcomes and learning from the staff training and support programme I have been piloting with a team of local social care staff.

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I am proud to say that my poster won joint first prize as voted for by delegates attending the conference, and even prouder that my workshop was attended by the CEO and Chair of Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists!

Our outcomes are so important but sometimes it can be difficult to measure what is truly important. As Albert Einstein is reported to have said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. In an age where we are driven to seek the evidence to underpin our practice where can we find the evidence about what really counts for the people in our care?

With this in mind, the RCSLT Mental Health Clinical Excellence Network met in London, Glasgow and Limerick (embracing video-conferencing technology) to discuss “What works for SLTs in Mental Health?”. We had a packed day of presentations from therapists working in the field; sharing information, approaches and tools that have really made a difference for the people they support. While far from the scientific “gold standard” of research evidence, this sharing of anecdotal experience does start the process of unpicking what really counts in the work that we do.

In my work supporting good communication between people with mental health problems and social care staff I have not improved any one person’s speech, language or conversational skills as could be measured on a standardised assessment. However, what we have achieved are significant improvements in people’s quality of life in terms of their participation, independence, involvement, relationships and mental wellbeing – and that, in my opinion, is what really counts.

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7 thoughts on “What Counts?

  1. Pingback: What Counts? | weeklyblogclub

  2. Pingback: Caring about carers, communicating & November customs | weeklyblogclub

  3. Hello, your blog is really interesting!! I am currently a 3rd year SALT student at Newcastle, and we currently have an assignment on mental health issues and their impact on SALT services within the NHS. do you know of any publications that address this issue? Thank you for blogging- it’s a great read. Amy.

    • Hi Amy. Thank you – glad you enjoy my blog. There is very little about impact but we do have 2 published articles on prevalence (references below) which demonstrate the potential role for SLT in mental health settings. If you want more info re communication issues in mental health have a reading list I can send you too.

      Emerson J & Enderby P (1996) Prevalence of speech and language disorders in a mental illness unit. European Journal of Disorders of Communication, 31(3), 221-236.

      Walsh, I.P., Regan, J., Sowman, R., Parsons, B. & Mc Kay, A.P. (2007). A needs analysis for the provision of a speech and language therapy service to adults with mental health disorders”, Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine , 24, (3), p89 – 93.

      • oh thats great- I think there is a big question of how the two services can complement each other… If you wouldn’t mind sending the reading list I would be extremely grateful. Thank you, and I look foward to reading more of your posts 🙂

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