Stephanie Wells, a British speech therapist, arrived at Bach Mai in November 2018 with the goal of prepping the staff to run the speech therapy unit independently by April.
"Speech therapy is relatively new to Vietnam, so getting the unit ready in six months is a big task," says Wells. "However, the staff are very enthusiastic about learning and delivering quality patient care."
Formerly a speech therapist at the neurological rehabilitation unit of a London hospital, Stephanie mentors the two doctors, two nurses, and physical therapist who make up the unit.
"A big part of my role is providing lectures on specific topics and working one on one with each therapist, demonstrating techniques and advising them as they practice," says Wells.
"I’m trying to emphasize the importance of performing lengthy assessments so that we can give each patient the appropriate therapy and set realistic goals."
"We’re also working on better coordination with the patients’ other doctors and physical and occupational therapists. For example, we may ask a patient’s physical therapist to ask them to count out loud as they do their exercises so they get more practice speaking."
Significant funding for rehabilitation in Vietnam
The work is possible thanks to support from a multi-year USAID grant. HI is also able to provide continuing education and mentoring to doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and other staff in neurorehabilitation.
In addition, the organisation is working to improve the training of physical and occupational therapists in universities, develop rehabilitation guidelines at the national level, and provide assistive devices and house modifications to people with disabilities.
The project aims to support 530 rehabilitation professionals and 14,000 children and adults with brain lesions by 2023.