Thursday, 22 May 2014

The importance of Social Connections - Speech Pathology Conference 2014.

This week has been the Australian Speech Pathology Conference in Melbourne. I attended 1 day of the conference, and have come away with some great insights across the breadth of Speech Pathology practice.

Of particular note was the Keynote Speaker, Associate Professor Jacinta Douglas, who presented the Elizabeth Usher Memorial Lecture. The title of her address was
"Placing therapy in the context of the self and social connection."

Associate Professor Douglas works in a rehabilitation setting primarily. However her research has wide reaching implications for all Speech Pathologists. In particular, anyone working in a Human Rights framework and Social Inclusion and Social Justice for all.

She identified Social Connections as being paramount to ones needs in returning to the community after an Acquired Brain Injury. This is just as critical in working with any individual with communication needs.

Social Connections and social relationships also have significant power and make a difference in
·         Health mortality;
·         Emotional well being;
·         Self identity.
She noted – “even 1 really good relationship makes a difference. 

In her research she asked people who had more successfully re-integrated into the community after their Acquired Brain Injury,  how do you get Social Connections?
There were 6 critical elements identified
·         family  - which may lead to other connections;
·         friends;
·         paid carers - these do have boundaries. But also don't devalue these, particularly if you are unable to replace them with any other connections;
·         pets;
·         social snacks – these are tangible reminders of what we have done. They could be photos or awards or objects of significance;
·         self narrative - in particular, for those who have their literacy skills, in this climate of technology, the use of Facebook, online groups, blogs or their own websites.
These 6 elements can be seen as being as highly relevant to all members of our community.

Now, think about the people in your world - how socially connected are they?
How can social connectedness be developed, to improve the persons sense of well being?

Talk to Cathy about how you can use Social Connections to improve communication and well being for the people you support in the community.


Cathy Basterfield
Speech Pathologist
Access Easy English
0466 579 855

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