Because May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, let's talk about five common myths about Home Health Speech Therapy. How many of these have you fallen for?
Myth 1: "Speech therapy is just for kids."
If you're new to the home health or geriatric care scene, you might be more susceptible to falling for this one. Communication is an activity that happens every day across the lifespan. When you think about this, it makes sense why speech therapy is not just for kids. Breakdown can occur at any point during a person's life, and when it does, they need help. Stroke, TIA, Parkinson's disease, dementia, s/p brain surgery, and traumatic brain injury are some examples of acquired conditions that affect communication. The majority of these happen to adults.
Myth 2: "I talk just fine so I don't need speech therapy."
I have heard this countless times. Although we do cover speech, SLPs work on so much more than that. We address swallowing difficulties, diet texture modifications and recommendations, thought organization, processing information, following directions, short and long-term memory for effective day-to-day recall, voice and breath support training, dementia communication strategies, word finding, and more. But that doesn’t all fit on a badge. So a person with medical complications who talks just fine, can still benefit from a speech therapist more than they ever thought they could.
Myth 3: "If they needed speech therapy, the doctor would have ordered it."
Not necessarily. Sadly, a physician is not always aware of the scope of a speech therapist, and how they might be able to bridge the communication gap between patient and family members, or patient and caregiver.
Speech therapists, as well as occupational therapists, seem to be in a constant battle of educating physicians, nurses, and the general public regarding their job description. A quick search in a few speech therapy Facebook groups reveals the frustration of lack of understanding of what all a speech therapist can help with. If you or a caregiver think that they may benefit from speech therapy, let the doctor or nurse know what you think.
Myth 4: "This person has dementia, it's not really important to work on speech therapy because they're not going to remember anything anyway."
Think about it, every behavior that a human does communicates something. We sleep, talk, cry, run, stare, squirm, call out, and a million other things, and we do these things because we need or want something. Just because a person with memory loss may not remember the topic of conversation or something that was said earlier that day, does not mean that they don’t enjoy having the conversation. Speech therapists work to design the best method of communication (including receptive and expressive language) for that patient with their family or caregivers, which is all dependent on the specific situation. Don’t write the person off just because “they have dementia.”
Myth 5: "Foreman Therapy Services doesn't have a speech therapy department because speech therapists are hard to come by in home health."
Actually, Foreman Therapy Services has had a robust DFW department for the last year, officially forming in March 2017 with an SLP manager overseeing the ST team in Dallas and Fort Worth. Additionally, all branches of the company are hiring speech therapists to provide services in their respective regions, including Austin, San Antonio, Houston, El Paso, and in Michigan and Ohio!
And there you have it, five myths busted! Now you can't be guilty of perpetuating these myths!
James Handley, MS, CCC-SLP