An important aim of the CommunCATE Clinic is to enhance the training of new entrants to the Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) profession. In line with this aim, the research project created a number of internships for newly qualified SLTs. Interns are involved in all aspects of the work, including assessing clients, delivering therapy and supporting data analysis. Vasiliki, Chrissie, Catherine, Carol, Jana, Anne, Katie and Jess all worked as interns on the research project. We are continuing to offer paid internships to recently qualified Speech & Language Therapists who wish to gain experience in the CommuniCATE approaches to aphasia therapy, through a competitive selection process.
The CommuniCATE team take speech & language therapy students on placement in the on-site clinic at City University London. Students learn about communication in aphasia, have the opportunity to work with adults with aphasia and are taught how to administer and score formal assessments of language and cognition. Under the supervision of the qualified therapists, students provide technology-enhanced therapy to clients with aphasia. They may provide remote therapy via Skype or face-to-face therapy using reading, writing or speech software. Students are evaluated on their placement and given constructive feedback. They also have the unique opportunity to experience research in action. Additionally the placement supports development of the evidence base for therapies which is an important consideration when providing therapy.
Kim said: “I have enjoyed my placement, it has been a really interesting experience, learning how technology can be incorporated into therapy for people with aphasia”.
From time to time the Clinic is able to offer volunteering opportunities to qualified Speech & Language Therapists who wish to develop their aphasia practice and learn about the latest developments in technology enhanced therapies. Any therapists who are interested in volunteering should contact the Clinic Director, Dr Celia Woolf, for a discussion in the first instance.
BSc and MSc SLT Projects
To date, 11 speech & language therapy students have carried out BSc or MSc dissertations linked to CommuniCATE. This work has augmented the CommuniCATE findings and the students have gained invaluable research experience and skills. Dissertation topics have included:
- Carrying out and analysing interviews with CommuniCATE participants, to explore their views about the therapy that they received;
- Collecting data on the CommuniCATE measures from neurologically healthy participants;
- Analysing the CommuniCATE data sets, for example to explore the relationships between measures.
Interested in finding out more? Have a look at the abstracts.
Cath Stibbs who undertook her MSc project with CommuniCATE said:
“It was great doing a dissertation project that was part of a larger intervention research project, as it felt like I was contributing to something that would have a real impact on aphasia treatment and research. As a dissertation project is a relatively very small piece of research, I think it would have been a real challenge to achieve this with a stand alone project.
Being part of a large project like CommuniCATE, meant many aspects of the research had already been taken care of to some degree (e.g. initial stages of recruitment, information gathering, and ethical clearance) and I could focus on the bits that were most relevant to my project (collecting and analysing qualitative interview data from participants with aphasia) much more thoroughly than I would have been able to do otherwise. Doing the project really challenged some of the ideas I previously held as a Speech and Language Therapist working with people with aphasia, and has had a direct impact on my clinical work. I don’t think this would have happened if I hadn’t had the opportunity to do such an in-depth project, and also to interview participants who had been part of a larger intervention study. Working alongside other researchers, clinicians and students within the CommuniCATE project was really stimulating and enjoyable. The opportunity to share ideas with others on the project team definitely helped with motivation, enthusiasm and organisation, as well as ideas and reflection. The whole experience actually reminded me why I feel really committed to aphasia rehabilitation, which is something I’ve sometimes lost sight of amongst the pressures of my clinical work in the NHS”.