Alex Penfold on Youth Mental Health Day 2023: Insights from a Mental Health Nurse and...
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MSc Speech and Language Sciences
I qualified from University College London with an MSc in Speech and Language Sciences in 2005. Since qualifying, I have principally specialised in working with adults across the life span with complex communication and swallowing needs arising from acquired and progressive neurological conditions. I have also developed highly specialist skills working with adults with organic and functional mental health conditions, both inpatient and community, and consequently have an in-depth knowledge and expertise of the Mental Health Act 2007 and Mental Capacity Act 2005. In addition, I have extensive experience assessing and delivering interventions for those needing Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC). I completed my post-graduate specialist dysphagia qualification in 2010 and have continued to maintain my dysphagia competencies in assessing and managing complex dysphagia cases.
In 2012, I moved from a general community neurology role to managing an independent neuro-rehab caseload with clients involved in medico-legal claims. I have extensive experience in using a range of evidence-based assessment tools to assess and produce comprehensive reports and recommendations for clients following acquired or traumatic brain injury and birth injuries. I am adept at producing quotes and assessments for case managers and delivering cost-effective and evidence-based interventions for both pre-settlement and settled cases. I continue to hold an independent caseload as the treating speech and language therapist (SLT) in medico-legal cases, and am highly experienced in producing high-quality assessment and reports. As part of this role, I have frequently liaised with the expert witnesses in pre-settlement cases.
I have held a role managing a nationwide team of treating SLTs for a medico-legal rehab company. In addition, I briefly worked as a case manager in 2017-2018 and received all the relevant training for this role, before returning to my role as a treating SLT. I have also delivered training for solicitors and case managers, as well as other professionals, on cognitive-communication difficulties following brain injuries.
In addition, to my clinical and training roles, I have regularly undertaken the role of clinical educator on placements from several universities and provide clinical supervision for junior speech and language therapists. I have co-ordinated the development of the South West Neuro Local Group for SLT's working in Independent Practice and am the current chair for this group. I am responsible for organising a range of CPD opportunities for the group. I have participated in reference groups for the Royal College of SLT's regarding development of a careers framework and updating the dementia clinical guidelines. I regularly participate in a range of continuous professional development activities in order to maintain my knowledge and skills in a range of specialist areas, including AAC, new treatment approaches, clinical counselling and supervision skills.
I accept instructions from both claimant and defendant solicitors and insurers. I have undergone formal training in the medico-legal process and am fully aware of my responsibilities under Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) pertaining to expert witnesses.