About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Napoli Oraha, Grand Valley State University

As a future speech-language pathologist, my goals for my patients are not limited to communication and swallowing objectives. Instead, there is a strong emphasis on improving the quality of life of my patients. Although speech-language pathologists are known for their rehabilitation services for improvements of communication, language and swallowing, clinicians serve a much greater role in the lives of seniors.  As a future clinician, I see the importance of taking a holistic approach for both evaluation and treatment.  There are many aspects of therapy that people may mistake speech-language pathologists to be solely responsible for. The truth is, clinicians are not just responsible for improving speech, but rather helping people remember how to say what they want for dinner. Clinicians are not just responsible for improving communication skills, but rather, recollecting the names of their family members. Clinicians are not just helping improve swallowing skills, but rather helping patients having the ability to eat their favorite meal after suffering a stroke.

As a future speech-language pathologist (SLP), I don’t want to just look at each patient as a client with a disorder, but rather a person with a disorder who has a family and other responsibilities. I will apply a holistic approach while working with all my patients. Persons living with aphasia or other neurological impairments, which lead to the assistance of SLP’s, are most likely afraid, nervous, depressed or upset due to the initial shock of what their brain injury has resulted in. I believe it is so important to help the patient as well as their family, because it is a lifestyle change for the whole family as well as the patient. In language intervention, the clinician should understand that these cognitive and physical impacts all forms of a person with aphasia’s life, not just language.

Although speech and communication is important, a person who have these impairments, is dealing with many other changes that may be dramatic, so I will make sure to take their goals and the goals of their caregivers into consideration when determining their short and long-term goals. For example, in class, my professor mentioned that there will be clients that may not worry about constructing proper grammatical sentences but rather, they are more concerned with recognizing their grandchildren by name. I will use various types of modalities to utilize the skills they have to improve the other skills that have deficits post-stroke.  It is important that as a clinician, I understand that verbal communication is important, however, it is not the most important aspect of intervention.  Providing in-home care to patients applying this holistic approach leads to a better prognosis for the patient, and overall spirits of caregivers.

As a future clinician, I recognize that I will be implementing various therapy techniques based on the needs of each individual that I am working with. I want to get to know each patient on a personal level so that I am able to help each patient reach their personalized goals and also help to improve their quality of life. I will learn about daily hobbies, habits, musical interests, and other important factors in my patient’s life. I will use my clinical judgment to help determine what is beneficial for the patient, however I will also look at the entire picture of the patient, including their family members. I will be sure to include the caregivers and loved ones in the determination of what the goals should be, as well as the treatment process so that the goals can be generalized and eventually lead to a better change of carry over. I will do everything I can to help improve the quality of life for the patient and their family. I hope to be a support system to each individual that I work with. Completely applying myself into my profession will help me to improve the quality and even quantity of life to my patients, especially those who are receiving in-home care services.

About Napoli

Napoli is currently working on a Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology at Grand Valley State University.

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