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专访:“用病人的语言提供语言治疗资料和教育工具,为病人和他们的家人提供了巨大的可能性。”

—— 颐康养老院公关主管、语言治疗师黄晓莹
来源:贴心姐妹网   更新:2015-01-08 13:47:31   作者:施雅芳
专访:“用病人的语言提供语言治疗资料和教育工具,为病人和他们的家人提供了巨大的可能性。”——颐康养老院公关主管、语言治疗师黄晓莹
 
图/黄晓莹提供 黄晓莹获得“无障碍沟通领导奖”
 
黄晓莹是颐康养老院的公关主管,但鲜为人知的是,她还是一位语言治疗师,并获得了提供语言治疗服务的Aphasia Institute颁发的“无障碍沟通领导奖”(Communicative Access Award)
 
她说:“语言病理学是一个好的方向——将我的公关专业技能带入一个新的境界——从临床的角度为那些有需求的人士服务。” 
 
她说:“在加拿大,老人与孩子比,是没有得到充分服务的群体,华人耆老更是。有一些关于语言治疗和吞咽的自我帮助的资料和教育课程是帮助老人和他们的家人的,但绝大多数只有英文的。如果语言出现问题,英文资料对我们说中文的病人来说是毫无用处的。”
 
她指出,对失智症(dementia)患者来说,他们先失去后来学会的语言,然后是母语的逐渐丧失,因而,从颐康老人院的情况看,即使病人在移民加拿大后学会了英语,但失智症仍会令他们变成只能用中文沟通;因华人耆老在战争年代成长,他们中很多人没有受过太多教育,几乎是文盲。因而,对这个群体来说,涉及阅读和写作的语言治疗方法的有效性很有限;失语症(aphasia)是一种导致中风病人失去语言和/或口语能力的疾病。因为这些疾病和语言相关,治疗也和语言有关。颐康曾经使用外部治疗失语症服务,由说英文的注册口语-语言病理专家或语言治疗技术员提供。尽管这些服务很专业,但因为是用英文进行的,对颐康的病人来说,效果不大。
 
语言治疗服务没有政府资助,颐康养老院无法长期提供此类服务。黄晓莹向提供服务的Aphasia Institute建议了一个新的服务模式,双方沟通后达成共识:应建设颐康自身的服务能力。颐康将Aphasia Institute的一些资料翻译成繁体和简体中文,Aphasia Institute则培训颐康的数位健康护理专业人士,然后由这些受过培训的专业人士培训颐康的其他工作人员,包括注册社工、注册护士、注册操作护士、护理员以及义工和家属,从而满足耆老们的个人需求。
 
她说:“用病人的语言提供语言治疗资料和教育工具,为病人和他们的家人提供了巨大可能性,他们因而能恢复部分和家人的沟通能力,并能和其他健康护理专业人士建立一种新的沟通方式,从而确保他们获得适切和及时的服务。”
 
对黄晓莹来说,为耆老服务还和她对外婆的爱有关。
 
“能为耆老服务,给了我极大的工作满足感,因为我和我的外婆关系很亲密。她照顾儿时的我,现在和我同住,我能照顾她。”她说。
 
以下是贴心姐妹网对黄晓莹的书面问答式专访的全文:
 
Loving Sister: What inspired you to become a language therapist?
 
Anna Wong :I have been a Communications professional for close to 20 years now, using my communications expertise in the BUSINESS and CHARITABLE worlds in print and broadcast, such as by doing internal and external communications for companies, advocacy work for marginalized populations to obtain better health care, promote public education and fundraise for worthy causes such as Yee Hong, Ghost Pine Organization(百年树木)and Canadians for Tsunami Relief.
 
I have reached a stage in my career where I was looking for new breakthroughs and more ways to serve the community.  I did some soul-searching and self-analysis to identify my strengths and preferences.  I also contacted experienced professionals in the field and did some volunteer work to experience different settings.  Based on this research, I determined that Speech-Language Pathology is a good direction for me to take my communications expertise to a new horizon – this time in a CLINICAL way to serve those in need.
 
Loving Sister:What kind of training did you go through to become a language therapist?
 
Anna Wong:I did Linguistics and French Language for my honours undergraduate studies.  For my graduate studies, I did MBA and Public Relations.  To become licenced in Speech-Language Pathology in North America, one requires a Master’s degree in Communications Science or Speech Pathology.  To enter such a program, I need to have a few specific courses at the undergraduate level as prerequisites.  My Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics gave me SOME but not ALL of the requirements to apply for the Master’s program.  So, I went back to school while working full-time, and took a year of courses to fulfill the requirements.  After that, I successfully entered the graduate program and also completed clinical practicum periods while completing the courses.  Professional hands-on experience is also a requirement to become licensed.  This clinical program is very intensive and demanding, and is especially taxing for someone my age to be retrained for this new career.  The demand for tuition fees, time required to study and time away from work and family to do practicum are all extremely high, and to do it while carrying an established career in business communications makes even more challenging.  I am very grateful to the family for their support while I undertook this serious change, and to my employers that were very accommodating for my practicum schedules.
 
A registered Speech-Language Pathologist can provide services to assess and treat patients with swallowing , speech  and/or language disorders.  They can also use the assistance from Communications Disorders Assistants.

Loving Sister: How do you help seniors with language therapy needs at Yee Hong?
 
Anna Wong:In Canada, seniors have always been an underserved population compared to children, the Chinese community even more so.  There are self-help resources and education courses developed to help seniors and their families for language and swallowing needs, but most of them are available in English.
 
If language impairment is a concern, resources in English become useless for our Chinese-speaking patients.
 
a. With Dementia , people lose their subsequently learned languages first, and regress of their native language.  So, in our case, even the patient had learned English upon immigration to Canada, Dementia would still make the patient lose his/her English ability and only function in Chinese.
 
b. Due to their age which coincides with periods of war, many Chinese seniors did not receive many years of formal schooling and may be close to being illiterate . So, therapy techniques that involve reading or writing are limited in effectiveness for this population. 
 
c. Aphasia is a disease that affects post-stroke patients by impairing their language and/or speech ability.  With these diseases being so language-specific, the treatment needs are also very language specific.  Yee Hong used to have an external program to treat Aphasia, which was conducted by English-speaking registered Speech-Language Pathologists and Communications Disorders Assistants.  Although the program was professionally conducted, our clients experienced limited success because the treatment therapy and activities were conducted in English.
 
Speech therapy has no government funding as an in-house service within the long-term care home.  Services are provided on an as-needed basis by CCAC – mostly to conduct swallowing ASSESSMENTS for clients with suspected swallowing impairments, but not to provide THERAPY for swallowing, speech or language impairments.  So, services are very limited.  Therapy is an ongoing process, and often a long fight for this age group, so intermittent visits by CCAC clinicians are simply not effective for treatment needs.  We need to have an in-house program that is sustainable in skills and affordable in costs.
 
So, I approached Dr. Aura Kagan at the Aphasia Institute for brainstorming a proper model for the seniors Yee Hong serves.  We came to the conclusion that building internal capacity is the best way for both organizations.  So, Yee Hong has agreed to translate the Aphasia resources developed by Aphasia Institute into Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and then in return, Aphasia Institute will provide training to a few of our health care professionals to spread the training to other staff in the four long-term care centres  and in the Social Service division.  This training is called Supportive Conversation for Aphasia.  It is so user-friendly that it be taught to Social Workers, Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, Personal Support Workers, volunteers and family members, so that they can effectively communicate with Aphasic seniors that they take care of, to meet the seniors personal care needs.  We have completed translation for part of the education series and have conducted the training for our staff in the Social Service division and to families in the community.  It is because of the vision to spearhead this partnership that I won the 2013 Aphasia Institute Communicative Access Award.
 
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with the world renowned team of Dr. Aura Kagan at the Aphasia Institute.  Being able to help seniors give me immense job satisfaction because I am very closely bonded with my maternal grandmother who took care of my when I was young, and who lives with me now so I can take care of her.
 
Loving Sister: Any memorable stories on how you have helped the seniors with language therapy needs would you like to share?
 
Anna Wong: When I was completing my clinical practicum in a rehabilitation hospital, the patients who I treated were great teachers of my life.  One lady who had suddenly become severely non-verbal (almost no verbal language) that I assessed for Aphasia, had a very challenging time getting through the assessment, and being an intern at that time, I became more nervous as she failed more items on the test.  At the end, she held my hand and told me, in her very limited words, that she was exhausted from all the work others did to her at the hospital during the way, and asked me to come earlier the next morning when she would be more rested, “And I will work with you.”  These are very small and simple words, but they are SO HARD for her to produce, and they mean SO MUCH to me.  I was not the one helping her, but she was the one helping me to learn – not just the technical skills of conducting an Aphasia assessment, but the attitude in life, on how to deal with challenging situations like a stroke and the loss of verbal language, and still maintain a positive attitude with oneself and with others, to improve the quality of life using the limited words available to her.  In that particular case, the patient was the strong person, and me - the clinician, was the weak person.  I learn a lot from patients like these.

Loving Sister: How did you feel when the seniors with language therapy needs got the help?
 
Anna Wong: Language is a critical element for psycho-social well-being.  An impairment of speech or language can severely decrease one’s quality of life.  It is particularly imprisoning for people who do not have other modes of communication, such as writing or drawing, because of their limited literacy level.  The impairment also increases the risk in providing health care because critical clinical information can be missed because of the communication breakdown.  Making language therapy materials and education tools available in the patient’s own language opens up a whole world of possibility for them and their family, so that they can restore some communication mechanism within the family network, and establish a new way of communication with other health care providers to ensure the proper and timely care is provided.  You can consider speech and language as one of your 5 critical senses.  Losing speech and/or language would be like losing one of your 5 senses.  It makes you lose out a lot of intake information, and severely limits your information output as well.
 
Loving Sister:Any things/thoughts would you like to add?
 
Anna Wong:Many speech-language pathologists in Canada like to work with the children population, probably because the goals are more easily met and the results are more personally satisfying.  In contrast, with the aging population, some cases are set to go downhill, and therapy will only help slow down the deterioration process.  I am particularly interested in serving the needs of seniors with their swallowing and post-stroke speech and language difficulties, because they are underserved, and because of my love for seniors.
 
The Chinese community also has a low awareness for the speech and language pathology profession.  People in need can benefit a lot from the right services and educational tools.  We also need more clinicians of our languages in this profession.  There is still so much more work to be done in this area.  I encourage the Chinese community to NOT view a stroke as an END of their communicative abilities, but a CHANGE in the communicating methods.  A stroke patient does not have to live with not being able to communicate for the rest of his/her life.  There are services available and treatment can be done to help.  If therapy cannot help, there are also affordable assistive devices that can help facilitate communication.  Our community needs to be more aware of these possibilities and make good use of them.
 
 
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