Tag Archives: NHS

Can I Shadow you? Pre-course clinical experience

Shadow photo

Since setting up in independent practice I’ve had almost weekly emails from people who want to train as speech and language therapists. They explain they need to gain relevant work experience and ask if they can come and shadow me during therapy sessions with my clients.  Continue reading

What influences progress in therapy?

Therapy setup

When I caught up with my former NHS colleagues recently, they asked me how my independent practice was going. I commented that I’d never seen children make as much progress. We started unpicking possible reasons for this rapid progress, was it that:

  • I see the children once a week on an ongoing basis? Or
  • The parents are particularly engaged because they’re paying for the service? Or
  • I’m able to tailor therapy to a child’s particular needs? Or
  • A combination of all three factors? Something else entirely? Continue reading

Want to make changes at work but keep getting stuck? The Dare Conference can help.


The Dare conference is an exciting new event about learning how to make change, and I’m part of the team behind it. The presentations cover a range of themes that will help attendees learn skills and techniques for getting better outcomes. It’s aimed at digital professionals, I’m going to explain why the ideas are also valuable for people who work in health care (or social care, or charities, or anywhere with other people!)

At the conference people will be talking about:

  • learning from mistakes,
  • dealing with uncertainty,
  • redefining success,
  • responding to negative feedback,
  • being honest,
  • and failing to launch new projects.

When I think back to my time in the NHS, these were all huge issues for my team. Let me give you an example.

When a friend returned to work after her year off on maternity leave, she asked where we were up to in terms of the projects she’d been working on before she left. I was horrified to realise that in a year we hadn’t launched a single project. We’d got stuck – our bosses told us not to tell families about upcoming changes, we were making the same mistakes again and again, and judging our service by meaningless metrics, like number of client contacts. I’d spent my time in unproductive meetings where people responded: “no, but…” to other people’s ideas. No one was taking responsibility for change, including me.

There was also a blame culture. We didn’t respond to individual pieces of negative feedback in a thoughtful or sensitive way, so these escalated into formal complaints. Which led to everyone looking for someone else to blame instead of trying to figure out what we could learn from the situation.

If you’re facing these challenges today come to the Dare conference and learn how to get unstuck. The speakers at the Dare conference aren’t superheroes who have all the answers; they’re going to share their struggles and what they learnt along the way. I think these lessons don’t only apply to folk working in the digital community. We all need to learn how to really listen, to build on each other’s ideas and make changes, in order for our teams to be successful.

The Dare conference is taking place at the South Bank Centre in London on the 23 – 25 September. Check out who’ll be speaking and all the details here.

Are you trying to make a difference in people’s lives but experiencing barriers to making changes? This conference is for you. If you’re a health professional use the discount code ‘therapyideas’ to buy a ticket for £299 +VAT.

Help us spread the word about this event; send the conference details to everyone you think might benefit from support to make change. Tweet about it, or post a message on Facebook or LinkedIn. I hope to see you there!

Using “yes, and…” to facilitate change

Change diagram

I’m in a transition phase; I’ve left my NHS role and started work as an independent therapist. I find change tricky. I had an interesting conversation with Abi Roper and Tom Starr-Marshall that made me think — why is change in the NHS so difficult? And in a solution-focused kind of way, what makes particular projects successful?

Looking back, there was a pattern to my attempts at service development (try and follow along with the diagram!):
Continue reading

Drawing a new map in speech and language therapy—thoughts from Seth Godin’s “Linchpin”

I’ve just finished reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin and his message resonated with me. Godin asks readers to make a choice and then share his ideas, so here goes!

Godin describes a linchpin as “an individual who can walk into chaos and create order, someone who can invent, connect, create and make things happen… linchpins are geniuses, artists and givers of gifts.” He says that although we were trained to be cogs in a giant machine, we can choose to re-train ourselves to become indispensable.

Linchpins don’t wait for instructions, they make their own maps. They overcome the resistance (the lizard brain that tells us our ideas will never work and everyone will laugh at us) and get their ideas out into the world.

In a recent team meeting at work, it was easy to see the therapists whose lizard brains were in control; they suggested we stop trying new ways of working and go back to the old way! Fortunately my team also has a linchpin or two; they’re generous with their gifts and keen to make change. I’m trying to be a linchpin too; we’re starting to draw our own map, overcome the resistance, and ship our ideas.

I recommend checking out the Linchpin Manifesto (PDF link) and reading the book. We need more linchpins in the National Health Service! What do you think?