Speech and Language Therapist recognised with top health award

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An inspirational Speech and Language Therapist who goes above and beyond in her role has received a special award.

Carol Davies-Owen, who leads the Additional Learning Needs Team within Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Services across Gwynedd and Anglesey, received the ‘Working in Partnership’ award, sponsored by Wrexham Glyndwr University, at this year’s Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s Achievement Awards.

Carol has established effective joint working with special schools which has allowed her to create a universal level of provision to support the communication skills of all pupils attending these schools, not just those currently under the Speech and Language Therapy service. The pupils who attend these schools are supported to develop effective communication.  

Carol is currently supporting Canolfan Addysg y Bont in Llangefni, Ysgol Hafod Lon in Penrhyndeudraeth and Ysgol Pendalar in Caernarfon to achieve a sought after accreditation of ‘Communication Friendly Setting’ status, which when achieved will be the first of these accreditations to be awarded to any school in Wales.

Her colleague, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, David Hostler, who nominated her for the award, said: “Carol is an extremely worthy winner of this award, she is an inspirational advocate for the importance of effective and accessible communication for all children and young people, no matter what challenges they may face in life.

“Carol thinks about communication in a different way to other therapists I have worked with in the past, in that she feels strongly that communication is an intrinsic part of everything we do as humans and therefore we, as speech and language therapists cannot hold sole responsibility for it because we can never directly support everybody all the time.

“This is why Carol holds working in partnership in such high regard and works so hard to empower others to promote and support communication.

“Carol’s vision is for special education settings to develop their own knowledge and skills to support communication in all environments independently, rather than relying on direct visits from Speech and Language Therapy. She is keen to share the message that communication is all around us and therefore everyone needs the skills to support pupils to communicate effectively.

“She has supported schools to implement a wide range of communication support strategies and interventions with confidence so these can be carried out by teaching and support staff within school independently. This has empowered school staff and families to become invested in communication development, ensuring it is incorporated into all activities.”

The awards, sponsored by Centreprise International, celebrate the outstanding achievements of NHS staff from across North Wales.

Jeremy Nash, Chief Executive of Centerprise International, said: “It was a privilege to be the headline sponsor at the Health Board’s Achievement Awards for the third year running. The Awards served as an excellent opportunity to recognise all of the amazing people working within the NHS across North Wales.

“Centerprise is committed to supporting the Welsh community and NHS in equal measure.  We were delighted to be represented at the Awards, which was a wonderful celebration of the incredible efforts of the Health Board and its committed staff.”

Madi Ruby, Associate Dean, Faculty of Social & Life Sciences at Glyndwr University, who presented the award, said:  "We were proud to support the Health Board's Achievement Awards for a second year. All the nominees were really inspiring. Carol was a worthy winner of the Working in Partnership Award. Her efforts to help school children build their confidence and develop their communication skills was really impressive."