Spotlight on... Melanie Taylor, Principal Speech and Language Therapist

Date: 21 May 2024

Melanie Taylor

What is your job role?

Lead for Speech and Language Therapy within The Walton Centre.

What made you choose to do the job you are in now?

My mum was a nurse, so I knew from an early age that I wanted to go into something health care related. Having a chat and a cup of coffee is massively important to me so when I found out there was a job to help others with that - I knew it was the one for me!

Favourite part of your job?

So many to choose from, its hard to pick! It is such a varied job and no two days are the same, but the best part of the job is getting to know people and their stories. When we first give people the ability to communicate, for example patients with tracheostomies on ITU, it can be very emotional for all involved! I also love when we can get people eating or drinking again and finding out what the 'first tastes' are that they would go for. 

I’m also lucky enough to have been able to set up an Multi Disciplinary Team secretion management clinic for some of our Motor Neurone Disease patients – drooling is so socially stigmatized that it often causes people to become socially isolated and being able to address that and give people confidence to spend time with family and friends again is a real privilege. 


Tell me about the most rewarding experience you have had in your role.

I’m lucky that I love most things about my job but there will always be the patients that stick with you. I think when we’ve worked really hard with someone to get their swallow going – often from the very early stages on Intensive Care Unit when they can’t even manage their own saliva and have to have a tracheostomy and the distress that causes. We support them all through their journey – getting them communicating again, rehabilitating the swallow so we can get the tracheostomy out alongside the Multi Disciplinary Team and then carrying on with our input until we manage to get them eating and drinking again. Making them that first cup of coffee or getting them that first bar of chocolate always makes it all worth it. 


What's the best advice you've received at work?

You can always add something positive to someone’s day – even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment! The gains we make might seem small at the time but they can all add up to be a big thing.


What/who is your biggest motivator at work?

It sounds really obvious but the patients are definitely the biggest motivator – even when we don’t manage to get the outcomes we all wanted, knowing that we’ve done everything we can, that we’ve used the most up-to-date evidence and therapy and there really is nothing else we could have tried makes it a bit easier, for us as well as the patients. Being able to reassure the Speech and Language Therapy team of that as well goes a long way towards keeping morale high in tough times and in keeping the team motivated. 


What is on your bucket list for this year?

Work wise, becoming one of the first Speech and Language Therapists in the country to be able to offer botulinum toxin injections for saliva control and trying out new developments such as Biozoon (flavoured air) with our nil by mouth patients and evaluating the impact of this.  Outside of work I’d like to finally take the trip to Iceland (the country!) I was supposed to do in 2000.

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