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Speech and Language Therapist NHS UK

I’m a Speech and Language Therapist in the UK. I work for the NHS and my job is split between working on the wards and going out to see people in their own homes.

 

I see anyone over the age of 18 who has a communication, voice or swallowing problem and who does not have a learning disability (there is a separate service for that).  Specialist therapists within my service see most of the people with voice problems or those needing high tech computer aids for communication.

 

I get into the hospital at 07:30ish. I check our computerised referral system for new referrals then check the whiteboard we use to keep track of our current caseload and who needs to be seen today. I’ll decide on the priority of each case because I usually cannot see every person who would benefit from it.  I might check this list against our electronic system to see if anyone has died or gone home. I check the message book to see if anyone was chasing me for things that might change my timetable. Then I load up my pockets and get on the wards.

 

I go from ward to ward, reviewing medical notes, speaking to doctors and nurses and seeing patients. I spend the majority of my time filling out paperwork or writing notes, which I find frustrating and wasteful.  It often feels like I spend more time covering myself in case I end up being asked about the case in court than I do actually doing therapy.  I might see 8-12 patients in a day but I wouldn’t see all of them directly – some would just be chatting to the staff to check they’re doing OK. I usually take about 20 mins for lunch and then spend some time writing reports or phoning people who have gone home before getting back on the wards for the rest of the day.  In the afternoon it is visiting time so in an ideal world I would be able to liaise with patients’ families to help work out what is needed once they go home, but sometimes the streeses of having a loved on in hospital gets in the way of this kind of work. I usually leave at about 17:00 (I technically finish at 16:00).  There is a lot of emotional blackmail from nurses to try to get me to see more people than I have time for.

 

On days when I work in the community I spend the first hour making sure I have all the notes and resources and know where I’m going, then I drive from house to nursing home seeing people. My appointments are about 40 mins long and I probably drive for about an hour most days. I usually see 4 or 5 people in a day. I don’t get a lunch break but I do usually leave approximately on time. On exciting days I might go to case conferences for decisions about putting in feeding tubes and things like that.  You see a lot of people at their worst – when they are in crisis or very unwell.

 

I like that I seldom have to use a computer or sit at a desk. I like the patients. I don’t like the paperwork and being ignored by so many doctors who think they know more about my specialism than me.  I don’t like that a lot of people expect me to have a magic wand to fix their problems. A lot of therapists dislike the medical nature of the ward work – you do get a lot of bodily fluids on you, but I don’t mind that.  I spend a lot of time arguing with doctors and nurses.

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