I have several passions which have developed and have been nurtured by my former careers in paediatric nursing and FE/HE lecturing. My dissertation for my BSc in Nursing was based upon Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) methods with children with profound and complex additional needs, life limiting conditions and communication impairments. I believe that no child should be without a means of communication that is developmentally and culturally appropriate to them when receiving care in the acute nursing setting (and beyond of course). This led to my learning both Makaton and BSL, understanding how to use objects of reference, using hand over hand signing with DeafBlind children, and using French (within which I am conversationally fairly fluent) to overcome communication barriers. I am an expert at none but have found a small amount of skill in each has been incredibly beneficial and indeed transferable throughout all areas of my life.
For example, these skills and being keen and quick to learn were particularly useful again when volunteering in India and then Kenya as part of a multi-disciplinary health care team teaching a course on basic health care and hygiene. One trip was presenting a course tailored to the most pertinent health care needs as per the relevant demographics to house-parents in Indian orphanages; the other to community-based health professionals. In these situations we were lecturing with the help of interpreters but I enjoyed asking them to teach me phrases from my planned lectures in the appropriate language (I still remember how to say “today I am going to talk to you about gastrointestinal worms, diarrhoea and vomiting” in Hindi!) so that I could introduce myself appropriately and pick up as much as I could throughout the duration of these amazing experiences. These time periods, the signing, the travelling, are imprinted upon me as some of the most amazing times of my life within which I felt incredibly professionally fulfilled – it reminds me of feeling utterly alive to think upon it now – particularly having funded one of the voluntary trips by means of a “sponsored” skydive!
My desire to communicate in a way that engages and supports also played a key role in my teaching career, and I would attempt innovative and engaging pedagogical and andragogical strategies to engage all groups of students that I taught. I was not beyond hosting a ceilidh to teach A-Level health and social care students about observational parameters and the homeostatic processes within their own bodies - or having them watch Jekyll and Hyde as a means of trying to explain the Freudian ID and Ego.
I am absolutely fascinated by influences on cognitive development, the brain, and some of the psychology behind this; particularly the impact of massive concepts like socialisation, schematic development, and how social role valorisation and the different theories of learning, for example, can explain the completely individual subjectivity of communication exchange. I also undertook additional study in exploring cognition – damaged brains and neural networks, which looked specifically at the impact of acquired brain injury on cognition – and as one subsequent factor – communication.
I feel that one of the main strengths that I can offer to all places that I volunteer is my professional longing to facilitate effective communication. I feel that I am in a position to support and promote the networking of amazing people to continue to evolve and create fantastic communities of practice within which a sense of social integration and the promotion of holistic health and wellbeing can be scaffolded for the general health of our lovely communities.<!--EndFragment-->Read all Posts by Kat Lee