7th August UCL Aphasia Research Group Meeting

Dear ARG Members,

Thanks to all who attended last weeks meeting, I think everyone would agree that we had three really interesting presentations, and Sharon and I are getting slightly better at making sure there is enough team & coffee for everyone!

One of the things we are really enjoying about ARG is the chance the group gives for clinicians and researchers to come together and find out what each is up to.  Our last meeting was yet another example of this we kicked of with Dr Celia Woolf talking us through her remote aphasia therapy feasibility trial,  in full swing as we type. Dr Woolf talked about how she and her team at City (with Homerton University Hospital) are comparing Face Time delivery of a tried and tested anomia therapy to face to face therapy and a supported conversation control scenario. So far, Dr Woolf said results suggest remote therapy can work. Dr Woolf touched on some of the challenges faced when establishing web-based working in the NHS, and has kindly agreed to give ARG with a low down of her experiences and tips for  setting it up, something we could really use help with!

Fiona Johnson, an SLT and MPhil student at UCL then spoke to us about her research (her presentation is on  the Previous Speakers 2013 page). Fiona explained that, as a clinician she found herself wanting to better understand what is what within therapy that changes to our client’s behaviours. Analysing the therapy session data from the Better Conversations with Aphasia (BCA) original therapy study using a health psychology behaviour change model Fiona explained which elements of  BCA therapy tasks might be making the real difference to our therapy outcomes. Her results were fascinating (we are not just saying this because of Firle’s links to BCA!) and really exciting.

As SLTs we really do need to start grappling with the black box of therapy. How do we really know where to put our energies? Exactly what is therapy? Unless we start to tackle this element of our management head-on I suspect we will find we all have different definitions & ideas and we won’t even realise! Do have a look at Fiona’s  work…

(right I’m off my soap box- Firle)

And of course, last but by no means least, Roisin Reade a full-time clinician in NE Essex came in and told us all about the fantastic work she and her team having been doing in Colchester with her Communication Partner Scheme (presentation is on the Previous Speakers 2013 page).  As we listened to Roisin speak we kept thinking how a bit of funding and one person’s drive can take a service a long-way. Roisin spoke about her communication partner team of 15 ‘trainers’ each of whom have aphasia themselves, and how she has led on expanding Connect’s Communication Partner Scheme to into a training programme for not only health professionals within her organisation, but also STL students in Essex University and very soon local businesses within the Colchester area, go Roisin & team!!

This sparked an interesting discussion with the group. Does work like this strengthen or weaken the status of SLTs within NHS services with every shrinking budgets? In NE Essex Communication Partner Trained is an adjunct to SLT, but other ARG members expressed concern that their commissioner may see this as an alternative service.  This lead to  a discussion about how to tackle this, with ideas shared about how we could prove the effectiveness of this type of work alongside direct SLT interventions.  Within 15 minutes ARG had set Roisin up with about 5 different research projects!

However, these discussion do lead on to the value of this group. ARG is a useful starting platform for new research ideas. Our meetings are a precious resource for all of us to use to gain access to expert research and clinical links so that we can share, test and revise new research ideas. In this spirit our next meeting in November is going to focus specifically on this element of our work: collaboration.

There will be a practical element to the afternoon and were we will all put our heads together to work up practical research projects (both small and large) from one person’s clinical dilemma/early research thoughts. It will be great, promise!

More information about our November session will be posted in late September, but in the meantime if anyone has any ideas/thoughts they think they might like us to focus on, do get in touch!

Enjoy the rest of the summer,

Firle & Sharon

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