Investigating the Speech and Language Therapy experiences of partners of people with Aphasia
Randall, Catherine Louise
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Around 150,000 individuals in the UK are affected by stroke on an annual basis. A proportion of these individuals will be affected by the acquired language disorder known as aphasia. It is often close family members who assume long – term responsibility for the care and support of the person with aphasia after stroke and current guidelines emphasise the importance of including the opinions of patients and carers in plans for service development. Aims: The overall purpose of this study was to investigate how partners of people with aphasia experience speech and language therapy. The information gathered will assist therapist – partner interaction in aphasia rehabilitation. Methods & Procedures: A total of five partners participated in the study. A qualitative approach was adopted for the gathering of data through the means of semi-structured interviews. Interviews were carried out either in the meeting place for a local stroke group or within participants’ homes depending on convenience for the participants. The recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) procedure. Outcomes & Results: The participants valued the speech and language therapy input received by their aphasic partners, and attributed the progress made in their recovery to the work of the SLT. There was a link between participants’ understanding of stroke and aphasia, and their expectations of what speech and language therapy could achieve. Involvement of partners in the therapy process varied and those who were more involved reported a positive effect on their communicative behaviour and an increased understanding of aphasia facilitating indirect therapy with their aphasic partners at home. Conclusions: As this was a small-scale study, the findings would benefit from being validated by carrying out a similar study on a larger scale. However, it was clear that partner’s would benefit from more information about stroke and aphasia, inclusion in the therapy process wherever possible, provision of support and information regarding how to access this, and training in communication strategies. Overall, the participants greatly valued the speech and language therapy received by their partners.
B.Sc.(Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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