During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are being spotlighted now more than ever.
Each team member in Life Care’s facilities fulfills an important role in the health and safety of our residents, and since May is Better Speech and Hearing Month, we want to shine some light on the wonderful work our speech-language pathologists do.
Speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, treat communication disorders, as well as swallowing disorders, and can help with cognitive strengthening – including memory and problem-solving.
Meet Caitlyn Bergin
Caitlyn is one of our amazing SLPs. She serves as part of the rehabilitation team at Life Care Center of Stoneham, Massachusetts.
Caitlyn’s interest in the field of speech pathology started when she was a child. Her grandmother had a stroke with apahsia, a disorder that impairs a person’s ability to understand communication and to communicate as well.
“I’ll never forget the time she said her first meaningful word,” Caitlyn shared.
Her interest in helping seniors also grew as she worked as a waitress in an assisted living facility before starting college.
“I fell in love with the elderly population,” Caitlyn said.
Caitlyn earned her speech-language pathology degree from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. She launched her career at Cherry Hill Manor a Life Care facility in Johnston, Rhode Island, spending four years there before moving to the Boston, Massachusetts, area. There, she worked for another provider for a while but also as a per diem therapist for Life Care until she came to Life Care Center of Stoneham full time.
Outside of work, Caitlyn enjoys spending time outdoors and playing with her Bernedoodle puppy, a cross between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle.
What speech therapy means to her
Caitlyn enjoys the variety that her job as a speech therapist brings.
“Every day is so different,” she shared. “I’m constantly brainstorming ways to best treat residents with different disorders. I might work with a patient who has had a stroke and help them to be able to communicate with their family again, and then I might work with a patient with dementia to help them with cognition.”
In Caitlyn’s experience, many people don’t realize that speech-language pathologists help with dysphagia (swallowing disorders).
“When I say I work with people with swallowing disorders, most people get a blank look on their faces,” she said.
Helping people swallow again is a big part of Caitlyn’s job, though, and can lead to one of her favorite moments – seeing patients take their first sip of liquid or first bite of food after their illness or injury has left them unable to swallow. Every step of progress in treatment – from that first supervised swallow to graduating to a regular diet – is a chance to celebrate.
Over all, Caitlyn shared what being a speech therapist means to her.
“Speech therapy is working with an interdisciplinary approach to help the residents return home or prevent decline,” Caitlyn said, adding that her therapy team (including physical and occupational therapists) works together to treat patients holistically.
“I think our role is crucial,” she said. “Residents become part of our family. We can notice changes and help keep them safe and healthy.”
Certainly a valuable asset – during the coronavirus pandemic and every day.