Care More Spotlight: The Power of Listening

Emily Goldberg was driven to pursue a career where she could see the tangible impact of her work. Her path led her to become a speech-language pathologist, and as she works with her patients to communicate better with loved ones and helping them be heard and understood, she can see their quality of life improve.

She began her career as an SLP ten years ago working in preschool autistic support, but upon joining the Supplemental Health Care team, she was supported in making the transition to the geriatric clinical setting. She dove into the transition with both feet and spent as much time as possible earning CEU’s, and shadowing and observing her colleagues. Her change in clinical settings has had a profound impact on her career.

“I love the relationships that I make with colleagues and the people we serve. Connection and community are my priorities in life, and my work helps people access these when impairment makes it difficult. We need to communicate, not just to obtain needs and wants, but to feel that life is worth living.  I also love helping people improve their swallow to eat more safely and be included in the great social building-block that is a meal.  For many, feeding someone, serving them a meal, is the ultimate show of care and love.  I help caregivers confidently nourish their loved ones safely.”

One of many shining examples of how Emily “Cares More” relates to a music-based communication group that she developed to engage several of her patients in a fun, social setting. The skills of the individuals varied, while some could only nod and sway to the music, others could respond to questions or reminisce about where they first heard the song.

One day, during the holiday season the group was engaged in singing Christmas Carols, while one of the wheelchair-bound participants was singing at the top of her lungs as she often did during this group session. She wasn’t actually vocalizing any of the songs, but she was smiling and loudly singing out various vowels. Although it was joyous for her, it wasn’t appropriate and was disruptive to the other participants. Emily had set a goal to help her respond appropriately to her communication partners. On this particular day, one of the aides offered to take her from the group so they could finish singing their carols. Instead, Emily had an idea. She moved over to where the woman was sitting and began to sing along with whatever she was vocalizing.

As she sang a few notes, Emily sang those same notes back to her. After a while, the woman began smiling more broadly and started making eye contact as she sang her notes. Suddenly, the vocalizations began to sound like a song. It slowly began to sound like ‘Jingle Bells’, and they were all able to join right in with the words. For the rest of the session, she was able to vocalize along with whatever songs the group was singing. She was making a connection with the rest of the group using her own unique voice.

Emily summed up the experience by saying, ”Sometimes I think the most powerful thing we can do is listen!”