Giving Voice

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Maximum Impact

Happy No Pens Day!
Maximum impact is something that we all want for our clients as we want to make a difference to the lives of the people we work with, while ensuring what we do is good value for money. The theme of the RCSLT Conference this year was pertinent as it was Maximising Impact. It was a packed two days, which was brilliantly organised, informative and inspirational.
Morag Dorwood, Chair of Council, welcome us to the conference in Glasgow (and to Scotland). The opening keynote speakers really set the scene for what was a highly motivating two days. A leading Allied Health Professions Officer from each country in the UK discussed important issues around workforce, leadership, early intervention and prevention. Kamini Gadhok, Chief Exec of RCSLT led the discussion while they encouraged us to think about our personal and professional impact. They inspired us to be courageous and to develop skills around demonstrating impact.
Morag Dorwood opening the two day conference
Following the keynote speeches the buzz of enthusiasm and motivation could actually be felt in the air, and we moved on to a refreshment break where there was time to look at many exciting posters, exhibits and network with other SLTs.
After the break the first parallel sessions took place; so many interesting topics but only time to attend one! I chose the session around creating and using evidence which was thought provoking and informative.
Following this session the Rt Hon John Bercow, Speaker of the House, spoke of his joy and privilege to have been asked to attend the conference. It was a pleasure to listen to him talk so passionately about our profession and to hear him say that the most stimulating and rewarding part of his work as an MP was the review of SLCN (Bercow Review); wonderful to hear a decade on! He also talked about Voice Box (which is hosted at Speaker’s House) and I was delighted that he mentioned Jesse (one of this year’s finalists and a child from the schools I work in) and how Voice Box made him more popular.
The AGM followed John Bercow’s speech and it was lovely to see the photo of the Voice Box finalists (including Jesse!) on screen during the RCSLT impact report (detailed in the September Bulletin for those who’ve not yet seen it). 
The afternoon was another exciting parallel session (this time I chose Child Speech); followed by a keynote from Professor Courtney Norbury. HRH Countess of Wessex also joined us to hear Professor Norbury talk about Developmental Language Disorder. This session was highly motivating as we thought about where we add value, intervention goals and how we can measure impact. It was also interesting to hear more about the change in terminology from Specific Language Impairment to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).
Morag Dorwood closed the day and also told us that our RCSLT2017 hashtag had been trending on twitter, which was greeted with a cheer from us all.
It was lovely to see a number of Speech and Language Therapists who I haven't seen for a while (including Andrea Robinson and Gill Rudd who I met through the Giving Voice Innovation Group, and Dr Helen Stringer and Professor James Law who were both lecturers during my time at Uni.) It was also nice to meet lots of new SLTs too!
On Wednesday night I attended the social event where the Honours and Giving Voice awards took place. It was lovely to hear about the deserving winners of all the awards and to see HRH Countess of Wessex (Patron of RCSLT) give out the awards. She also talked passionately about the profession and the valuable work we do. 

HRH Countess of Wessex speaking at the Honours Ceremony
Thursday was another informative and interesting day filled with more inspirational speakers. The key note address was from Professor Linda Worrall who is the Director of the Centre for Clinical Research Excellence in Aphasia Rehabilitation. She encouraged us to think bigger, collaborate with everyone and to always keep the end goal in mind. She challenged us to write a letter to our future selves ( as a gentle reminder to ourselves of something we want to work on or achieve. This is definitely something I plan to do – both on a work and personal level. I like the idea of receiving an email from myself at some point in the future (by a specified date), reminding me of some of the goals I am working and keeping on.
Further parallel sessions took place throughout the day and I’d chosen another good two sessions (this time learning more about Service Delivery, and Developmental Language Disorder). The day closed following another keynote address, this time from 2 service users (Euan MacDonald and Fiona Petrie). This was a highly moving and inspirational session and following both speeches, the whole auditorium gave a thoroughly deserved standing ovation. The main messages from this session were that we should always take into account the views of service users and to never stop fighting for them. This was a moving end to an information packed two days and was good to draw everything together in terms of why Maximising Impact really does matter.