For Speech Therapist Beatrice Teo, helping people with communication and swallowing difficulties is not only a calling, but also an "obsession".
Beatrice was first enticed by Speech Therapy as a teenager and by the age of 16, she was resolute in her dream career, which she fiercely pursued when she left Junior College. "I have been a Speech Therapist for more than 5 years and I can’t see myself doing any other profession for the rest of my life!" she exclaimed. So what is Speech Therapy? In a nutshell, Beatrice said: "It is the practice of treating and managing of individuals with communication and swallowing difficulties."
Q. What qualifications and trainings did you undergo to be a Speech Therapist?
A. I graduated from La Trobe University (Australia) in Speech Pathology in 2011 on a four-year programme. After, I joined the National University Hospital and then moved to Gleneagles Hospital where I rehabilitated adult and paediatric patients. In 2016, I set up my own clinic and have enjoyed private practice ever since.
As a registered Speech Therapist under the Allied Health Professional Council in Singapore, I am also accredited and certified in performing:
- Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES)
- Videofluroscopy (VFS)
- Vitalstim Therapy
- Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT)
- Estill Voice Training
Q. Your place of practice is...
A. The majority of my practice takes me to private hospitals, private rehabilitation centres and paediatrics centres across the island. Home therapy is also a big part of my practice, many of my patients find it difficult to leave the house to seek therapy, so we go to them instead.
Want a speech therapy consultation with Beatrice Teo? Call CaregiverAsia at +65 6258 6683 to book or just click on the link below!
Q. Please share with us your experience as a Speech Therapist in Singapore.
A. Speech Therapy is still a relatively new field in Singapore so I am constantly facing the challenge of educating patients, their family members as well as medical practitioners on how therapy can vastly improve the quality of their lives and even restore significant levels of normalcy to their eating and drinking.
Being passionate about in my beliefs means educating comes with the territory; I spend time after each therapy session talking to family members, listening to their concerns and advising them of the progress and focusing on what can be done beyond the therapy session to improve the patient’s condition.
Singapore is diverse so the use of several different languages to do therapy is an area people may not expect. The best part of my job is to really see how my efforts has helped my patients improve – when we remove the patient’s feeding tube because he can start to eat by mouth again, the happiness you see in his face and his family members’ faces never gets tiring for me.
Q. Tell us more about the groups of people who utilise your service.
A. My patients tend to come from both ends of the age range. I see children affected with speech and feeding difficulties from Autism, Cerebral Palsy or Neurosurgery etc. And adults with communication and swallowing difficulties resulting from Stroke, Parkinson’s disease or even patients suffering from the side effects of their radio therapy treatment.
Q. Please tell us more about the various therapy methods you use.
A. I love a good challenge; I take on cases that others have given up on because I want to show them everyone can improve – that’s my signature. As a result of this belief, I am also aggressive in my approach and methods, and I push my patients hard in their recovery in accordance to my patient’s ability and wishes.
I combine traditional therapy techniques with new evidence-based approaches to tailor the best treatment plan for my patients. For example, I use Vitalstim electrical stimulation in combination with traditional swallowing exercises to maximise improvements for severe swallowing cases. Other than therapy, I also teach CaregiverAsia (hands on in the kitchen) how to prepare nutritious meals that are safe for the patient to swallow without coughing and choking.
There is new research to show that early therapy intervention for nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) patients can significantly improve long term function of their speech and swallowing. I strongly believe that prevention is crucial and therefore I advocate to the doctors to refer these patients early so I can educate them and help prevent/reduce the speech and swallowing problems that might occur years later as a side effect of radiation therapy for their cancer.
Q. What are the signs that someone needs to see a Speech Therapist?
A. There are a large number of signs that a person might benefit from therapy, however the more common signs to look out for in children are speech and language delays or if a child is having difficulty hitting the normal developmental milestone. For example, a child may have difficulty following instructions because she may only understand a very limited set of vocabulary and phrases, or maybe her speech is unclear compared to her peers. Some children may also have difficulty chewing and swallowing their food and drink. If these signs are present, then it might be worth having an assessment performed.
In adults, signs that you may need speech therapy include difficulty with speech, voice and swallowing. For adults with swallowing difficulties, they would often cough or choke when eating and drinking. This may be due to weakness in their swallowing muscles, resulting in the food and drink entering the airway when they swallow.
Adults with speech and language difficulties after a stroke might find it difficult to understand or express themselves with the right words or their speech might sound slurred. This too is a sign therapy might be required for improvement.
Q. What are the things that people need to look out for when choosing a Speech Therapist?
A. It is important to find a Speech Therapist to be positive, persistent and encouraging as it can sometimes be frustrating for the patient suffering from swallowing or communication difficulties. Often patients and even therapist give up because no progress is made, instead alternative methods may be tried, and this often shows improvement.
Having good knowledge of the medical condition and patient’s difficulties to recommend the appropriate treatment exercises is also important. What works for one patient may not work for another and often a person might give up too early not having exhausted all possibilities of treatment.
And finally, from my experience, building a good rapport with patients, especially their families and winning their trust is crucial to the recovery process as it helps the patient feels confident in the treatment and motivated to follow the therapist’s recommendation.
Q. What would you say are the pros and cons of being a Speech Therapist?
A. There are a lot more pros than cons of being a Speech Therapist. The best part of my job is being able to make a considerable difference in someone’s life. Be it to help them eat and drink again, or to help them communicate better with their family and friends.
Another pro of my job is that I get to build relationships with people of different ages, my youngest patient is 2 years old and oldest is 100 years old. I get to listen to all sorts of stories and experiences and really get to know my patients in a personal way. This is how I provide therapy with a personal touch and my patients enjoy their sessions with me.
Working in different environment also allows you to interact with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals and working in a team with a common goal to help the patient is really rewarding too!
The biggest cons in this line of work are the time restrictions for therapy sessions. This is especially true in government hospitals where the demand for Speech Therapy is high but the number of Speech Therapist is low – hence the number of government scholarships available.
There are freelance health professionals at CaregiverAsiaAsia who can provide respite care. Call CaregiverAsiaAsia at +65 6258 6683 to talk to us! Care services start as low as $15 an hour.
Q. What are the benefits of listing with CaregiverAsia?
- CaregiverAsia is a well-established and widely used healthcare portal, therefore being listed with CaregiverAsia helps the reputation and credibility of the listed healthcare provider.
- CaregiverAsia is not only a service provider but also they help to raise awareness and provide education of different healthcare services available to the public. This acts as a one-stop centre to all things healthcare related and makes the process of seeking healthcare easy for patients.
- There are over 700 CaregiverAsia listing on CaregiverAsia, a more holistic approach to healthcare is taken by the sheer variety of services provides.
- Personally, as a private healthcare provider, CaregiverAsia offers the opportunity for more patient referrals through their portal.
- And finally, as a healthcare provider, I am grateful to CaregiverAsia for this opportunity to share and educate readers on Speech Therapy.
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