How teamwork and technology is helping Paul continue to enjoy life his way

Ever wondered about the benefits of a multidisciplinary team, where two or more allied health professionals work together to create a more comprehensive therapy program? For participant Paul, the combined expertise of four of our clinicians – plus a little tech – is helping him achieve his big and small goals, like continuing to enjoy a milkshake at his local cafe.

It’s often the little things in life that we enjoy the most, like watching our favourite TV show and having a cuppa with a friend. For participant Paul, who has Parkinson’s disease, it’s ordering and enjoying his favourite drink, a chocolate milkshake, at his local café – a small pleasure that he continues to enjoy because of a tailored multidisciplinary therapy program and assistance from his support workers.  

“Paul has difficulty with communication and being understood, as well as challenges with eating and drinking as a result of reduced coordination and control of the muscles for speaking, eating and drinking,” explains Speech Pathologist Natalie. 

With these challenges in mind, Natalie set about designing a program that would help Paul achieve his personal goals of remaining safe while enjoying meals and drinks and continuing to effectively express himself and communicate his needs and wants. 

The therapy and technology that helped Paul achieve his goals 

To help Paul communicate more effectively and with greater ease, Natalie turned to technology, specifically augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in the form of an app loaded onto Paul’s iPad tablet. 

“The app supports Paul to be understood during times of reduced intelligibility and during his regular clinical swallowing assessments and opportunities to engage in meaningful and enjoyable interactions in the community, such as going up the road to order a chocolate milkshake at his favourite café,” says Natalie. 

Natalie will regularly assess the effectiveness and suitability of the app and over Paul’s plan period, will also measure his ability to communicate through intelligibility ratings and communication profiles and by observing Paul informally. 

Meet Paul’s multidisciplinary team 

As our clinicians often work in multidisciplinary teams to create comprehensive therapy programs, Paul also had the support of Natalie’s Cockburn-based teammates – Physiotherapist James Townley, Occupational Therapist Sheridan Beecroft, and Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner Arrianne Medcalf. 

Paul is supported to have his needs for connection, well-being and quality of life met through the multidisciplinary approach we have implemented. And as a result, he has maintained choice and control in his life, whilst also being cared for by his support worker team,” explains Natalie. 

“Working with Paul has been a rewarding experience, which has provided me with a good balance of challenge and enjoyment. Paul has a great sense of humour and personality and seeing him each fortnight is always great fun,” she says. 

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