The pandemic has challenged us to work in new and different ways to address barriers for our patients, and the speech pathology team at Moorabbin recently overcame more than one hurdle to help a cancer patient who required life-altering surgery.
Whilst the Moorabbin teams are not working directly with COVID-19 patients, like the rest of us they are part of the Stage 4 lockdown in Melbourne, and working within visitor restrictions and other safety measures to help their patients navigate these additional challenges.
Speech Pathologist for the Head and Neck Oncology team, Alanna Bowen, has shared a patient story highlighting how some wonderful teamwork and lateral thinking helped ease the way for a laryngectomy patient.
The cancer patient, who is from a non-English speaking background and cannot communicate verbally due to a tracheostomy, required a total laryngectomy – the kind of life-changing surgery which usually involves significant education for the family and the patient. In pre-covid times, the patient and their family would have met with someone who had previously undergone the surgery, so they could learn more about what to expect.
Recognising the impact a total laryngectomy has on the life of the individual having the surgery and their family, the surgical ward ANUMs worked with speech pathology, interpreting services, clinical and front-of-house teams to ensure excellent, patient-centred care was delivered.
Education sessions involving the man’s wife and interpreting services helped overcome the enormous communication barriers.
A video call was established with one of Moorabbin’s long-standing laryngectomy patients, who was attending the hospital for another appointment. He video called in from an office and the patient was able to ‘see’ and hear what it is like to live life after having a laryngectomy.
Alanna said “I have worked for Monash Health for 11 years and have spent the majority of my time at Moorabbin Hospital. I have not been more proud to be a part of the team.
“We all know that it is a challenging time to work in health care, and while Moorabbin isn’t directly working with the covid population, the impact covid is having on patients and staff is still significant.
“I am very confident that this patient and his family have received the best care we could possibly provide. I am so impressed that at every step, communication channels have been clear and I feel that this is what has led to a very positive experience in a very challenging time for the patient, his family and our team.”
Image from In Health Technologies
Approved by Stuart Cavill, 26 August