Date: 12 February 2014

1. Q: Can you please tell me how you find your clients, or do they find you?
A: My clients are often referred to me by my colleagues at sPARC, consultants and sometimes directly from GP’s (although it depends on the GP as to whether they know SPARC or not).  

2. Q: Are they all People With Parkinson’s, or not? If not what percentage would you say are PWP’s?
A: About 95% are PWPs, the remainder have other neurological conditions, such as a stroke and are seen as part of a multidisciplinary team.

3. Q: It seems to me that speech problems occur mainly in men ... is that the case? If so, have you any idea why that is?
A: I must say that I haven’t noticed any bias either way. 

4. Q: When you first meet a new patient, do you have to carry out a full health check?
A: No. I don’t get involved at the initial assessment which is very thorough and carried out by the Physiotherapist, Nurse and Occupational Therapists. They will refer to myself or the dietician if we are needed. When I do get involved I have the full reports of all the patients so I am completely up to speed with their condition.

5. Q: What tests do you carry out to ascertain a patient’s problems? To what extent do you employ high-tech, expensive equipment?
A: I have a range of software which goes with my PC, and this is used to analyse the parameters in a patient’s speech patterns and help towards repair techniques. I also have some very expensive tools which patients can take home and try out in order to see if they help in making progress. Research has shown that a person's confidence in using equipment is the primary factor in determining if they will use it in everyday situations.

6. Q: What evidence do you have that the singing sessions help with speech difficulties? 
A:There is plenty of evidence that singing helps speech, as seen by the attached Poster.

7. Q: Can you tell us please the benefits you obtained from your trip to the Montreal International Symposium?
A: I don’t know where to start! Firstly, I was quite surprised that there were only about 20 speech therapists in an audience of about 2,000 delegates; but  there was a wealth of knowledge and  evidence of experiences, if only from anecdotal evidence. With specific reference to choral singing, whilst in Montreal I met with other like minded therapists who were keen for us to establish a network so we could use the same outcome measures and build up a bigger pool of evidence.
I’ve entitled the attached poster the way I have because it is the crux of the matter to SLTs and commissioners in the NHS – does singing get the sameoutcome as other forms of SLT treatment? – No it doesn’t; but it depends what parameters you’re looking at. My ultimate aim from treatment is to get carryover – people talking louder/more clearly all the time. Singing is different to speech as you well know and you can’t go around singing to everyone just to get your point across!
There was a great deal of discussion about Deep Brain Stimulation, which really got my interest, too. 

8. Q: Would you mind telling us (sharp intake of breath) how old you are? And what qualifications you have, and what research projects you are working on at the moment?
A: Not at all! I don’t mind telling you that I’m 38. I took my first degree – Ba Hons in Language and Communication at Cardiff University. I’ve held a range of jobs from admin assistant, cook in a pub, carer and so on but none leading to a career as such. I’d always wanted to do Speech Therapy but felt at Undergraduate level that I didn’t have the life experience to be a therapist. 
So at 24, I went back to Sheffield University and qualified in 2001 as a Speech and Language Therapist (MMedSci).
My first post was in Derby and I’ve stayed here ever since. I’ve worked in acute (hospital setting), community (home visits), rehabilitation (inpatient hospital setting) and in 2009 came to SPARC to work in an outpatient setting. I absolutely love the job I do. I’m passionate about making a difference to people with Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve always tried to work in a person- centred way and the team encourages innovative practice and working hard to put quality services for the patient at the forefront of everything we do. 

9. Q: Finally, is there anything that we, as PWP’s can do to help you with, in your research, or generally in improving your service which you so excellently provide for us?
A: Yes, there is! Thanks for asking....We want to form a group to investigate the effect of playing music whilst patients are talking e.g. any difference between various types of music: pop, rock, classical, instrumental, etc; compare different instruments; piano, brass, guitar, etc; type of equipment used to play the music; MP3, etc; type of headphone, in ear, etc. So by means of this advert, would those who are interested in this project, please get in touch with me at sPARC Tel: 01332  254615.

Download and view: Montreal SLT Poster