Therapists visit Cambodia

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“IT was the best experience of my career so far,” is Alexia Young’s take on her educational trip to Cambodia, where she and colleagues taught Cambodian healthcare workers how to help patients with tracheostomies including how to manage swallowing difficulties.

Alexia, a speech and language therapist at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, was asked to take part in the educational trip by charity Speech Therapy Cambodia.

Unlike the UK, Cambodia does not have a specific speech therapy degree and therefore tracheostomy patients who experience swallowing difficulties are looked after by doctors, nurses and therapists without specific skills. A tracheostomy is an opening in the neck so a breathing tube can be connected to the windpipe.

The charity invited Alexia, along with two other speech and language therapist colleagues from other trusts, to run a three-day training course to teach Cambodian healthcare workers basic skills to improve care for their patients.

She said: “They were so inspirational and thirsty for knowledge. Healthcare is very different over there and it is a much poorer country.

“I was amazed at how enthusiastic they were about problem solving, asking how they could create solutions in response to the lack of basic equipment.They were so engaged and happy that we were there to help them that I was in tears on the last day.

I was absolutely humbled by the experience. They took us to visit another hospital in a poorer area and it very much made me appreciate what we have with our NHS even more.

They were such an amazing group of people that I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Alexia returned from her trip in February.

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