Alex Penfold on Youth Mental Health Day 2023: Insights from a Mental Health Nurse and...
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MMedSci Clinical Communication Studies, MA Language Acquisition
Since completing my professional training in 2007, a Masters degree in Clinical Communication Studies, I have specialised in working with children, young people and adults with complex communication difficulties associated with a range of often multiple and interacting health needs including learning disability, autism, cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairment, neuro-degenerative conditions and mental health needs.
I am currently employed with Cygnet Healthcare as a highly specialist speech and language therapist for adults with learning difficulties and mental health needs.
I work collaboratively within an extensive multi-disciplinary team to ensure the client is at the heart of the therapeutic process and I am highly effective at forming trusting relationships with my clients, their families and professional colleagues to achieve positive outcomes.
In addition to acute observational and analytical skills, I have experience of a wide range of formal and informal approaches to assessment. Additionally, I have extensive training and knowledge of evidence-based, best practice in a wide range of Total Communication (TC) and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) approaches that I call on to negotiate an appropriate intervention plan that enables people to achieve their full communicative potential. This may include:
• Verbal approaches (speech sounds and spoken language.)
• Intensive Interaction.
• Visual strategies to support communication, including PECS and a range of autism-friendly approaches.
• Objects of Reference or other tactile symbol systems.
• Signing systems, including BSL, Makaton, and tactile signing (on-body and hand-under-hand signing.)
• Low—tech and high—tech communication aids.
I have extensive experience of providing training to families and education and health professionals. I am also able to support others to implement intervention plans. I am experienced at writing Education, Health and Care (EHCP) plans, and I have written Speech & Language Therapy reports for a range of other formal purposes.
I have a specialist dysphagia qualification and have managed the eating, drinking and swallowing needs of people with learning difficulties and additional disabilities for over 10 years.
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.