AN innovative campaign in Derbyshire – helping people to communicate when illness or disability robs them of the ability to speak – has been hailed with a national award for the NHS therapists involved. Andrea Robinson and Ruth Young, speech and language therapists with Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, were named overall winners in the national 2012 Advancing Healthcare Awards. Under the Giving Voice campaign banner, both Andrea and Ruth have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of how speech and language therapy transforms the lives of patients. Andrea said: “Problems with speech and language imprison people and severely limit their participation in family life, the community, education and the world of work.
“Yet there is much that we can do to help people through speech and language therapy.”
The prestigious Advancing Healthcare Awards, now in their sixth year, put the spotlight on the best in patient care across nearly 50 specialities, covering the healthcare sciences and allied health professions.
Andrea, who is based at Babington Hospital, Belper, and Ruth, who is based at Ilkeston Community Hospital, were named by the judges as overall winners for advancing healthcare in 2012, as well as winners of their category, called Into the Limelight, for promoting the importance of speech and language therapy.
Mary Heritage, head of speech and language therapy services at Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “Both Andrea and Ruth are fantastic role models and champions of the truly transforming effect which speech and language therapy can bring to patients – from stroke survivors to children who stammer.”
Their award comes just days before World Voice Day on April 16, designated to celebrate the importance of voice and how lost we would be without our voices – from our everyday phone calls and conversations to world famous orators or performers. Ruth said: “Over 20 per cent of people will suffer from communication difficulties at some point in their lives and communication disorder is the most common disability seen in adults. Tackling communication problems not only improves people’s wellbeing but also saves NHS resources in the longer term.”
MPs, councillors and healthcare commissioners have all been engaged as part of the campaign to raise the profile of speech and language therapy in Derbyshire. Therapists and patients whose lives have already been transformed through the expertise of speech and language therapy were all involved in the campaign.