I have been providing mobile Speech Pathology services for over a decade. In that time, I have honed the contents of my bag. Of Course I add specific things for different clients, but there is a core kit that gets me through most sessions. This is it.
So what’s in the bag?
If the technology is for my use, (documenting notes, reading reports, writing email etc) I tend to use my laptop.
I tend to use my iPad for the client to interact with;
- looking at the newspaper online
- Access content of interest for the client (Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) comes to mind)
- SO MANY apps.
- some require internet access… (See below)
I also use my iPad & keyboard to document in team meetings and Professional development sessions, as it is more portable and less intrusive than a laptop for a group setting.
I usually take EITHER my laptop or the iPad, but I do sometimes use both. Particularly if my client will be using the iPad a lot during the session.
I use the internet a LOT. I used to hotspot to my phone if I required internet access, but drop-outs when the phone rings, or a text message is received drove me crazy. A few things I use to portable modum for on a regular basis;
- Online Practice Management software (Clinical notes & time sheets)
- Online accounting
- Facilitating word finding difficulties by finding a suitable image to support communication in real time.
- Conversations about diet texture, particularly in culturally diverse populations. It is not uncommon for a family member and I to look up a food together to see if it can be eaten as is or modified appropriately.
- Using a translation app if the family member is non-English speaking… This app does NOT replace an interpreter. It is useful to get around communication breakdown in real-time. Interpreters tell me the grammar is often terrible, but it works better than having no language support at all.
As a mobile therapist, being contactable in the community is a must. (I have bluetooth in the car)
Chargers & cables
Having all the tech isn’t much good to you if you can’t use it because the battery is flat. so I have;
- a car charger in my car,
- portable charger in my bag
- phone and micro usb cables (charge everything but the laptop).
- The wall charger for the laptop is in the glovebox… just in case
Having headphones with me allows me to;
- Listen to podcasts (work related of course)
- Participate in teleconferencing. (A park-bench or shaded car space work well… A public space like a cafe will not be private enough if it is a client related call)
- Have phone calls and document at the same time (if required)
I find Cervical Auscultation a very useful tool in the kitbag. As someone doing swallowing assessments in the community, it provides more information about the swallow and allows me to make clinical decisions in the home with confidence. This includes the decision to refer back to the public health system for a more in depth assessment if required.
The ability to modify fluids within the home is crucial to a home based swallowing assessment. It also provides the opportunity to educate regarding the process of thickening fluids as soon as the changed texture is recommended.
Most of the swallowing assessments in the community are with the elderly. Clients with advanced dementia will often “open wide” to a model to stick the tongue out, and the environmental/visual cue of a lit torch shining at them. The torch function of a mobile phone is a good back up, (for when you forget your torch) but I find that an actual torch is received better in the community.
Swallowing Management Recommendations
I keep a folder with a proforma of swallowing recommendations in the bag. The folder stops the pages from getting all dog-eared when I haven’t needed it for a while. When I make changes to a person’s diet, I think it is important to provide information for the individual, their family and support workers immediately. The letter to the G.P. which may take a week to get there is too late. It can cause anxiety and confusion if there is no documentation to refer back to.
This is enough for most occasions;
- 2 pens (in case I loose one or 1 stops working)
- a highlighter
- a stylus (I use this for the CLIENT to interact with the iPad if they have difficulty with activating the touch screen. I refer to the Occupational Therapist if this was required.)
Sometimes you just need a blank piece of paper. Especially if you want to leave information when you go. I also find, that it can be very useful to demonstrate what can be done with NO TECH. Therapy doesn’t have to have all the bells and whistles to be effective. It doesn’t have to be beautiful either. Using a blank piece of paper to quickly overcome communication breakdown, or impart information can be a great way to demonstrate to this clients and their families.
Business Cards IN Holder
I got myself a business card holder, because I never seemed to have my business cards when I needed them. Or if I did have one, I would find myself cringing & apologising whilst wiping biscuit crumbs and coffee stains off the card. Mmmm Very professional…
So that’s my kit. What’s essential in yours?