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Volume 17, Number 1 2015


Kathryn McKinley

is the speech pathology manager at St

Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Renee Heard

is a speech

pathologist working in inpatient rehabilitation at St Vincent’s


Julia Shulsinger

is a speech pathologist working in

inpatient rehabilitation at St George’s Health Service in the

Melbourne suburb of Kew.

Sally Brinkmann

is the speech

pathology and audiology manager at Western Hospital in the

Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

Robyn O’Halloran

is a senior

speech pathologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, and

lecturer in human communication sciences at La Trobe University.

Correspondence to:

Kathryn McKinley

Speech Pathology Manager

St Vincent’s Hospital

41 Victoria Parade, Fitzroy Vic 3065

phone: +613 9231 3846


To ensure the ongoing sustainability of the SCV program,

more explicit criteria around the availability and commitment

of volunteers may be required. The training requirements

may also need to be modified. For example, many speech

pathology students now undertake communication partner

training as part of their university course and therefore such

an extensive onsite training program may not be needed for

these volunteers. Given that many speech pathology students

are now receiving training in supported conversations and

those students who volunteer describe it as a very positive and

beneficial experience, it may be that providing opportunities

to have social conversations with hospital inpatients with

acquired communication disorders may provide a valuable

introductory student placement. The availability of a larger

pool of highly skilled supportive communication partners

would also enable the SCV program to be rolled out into

the other areas of the St Vincent’s health service network to

include people in residential aged care settings and those

attending community rehabilitation services. A pool of highly

skilled bilingual supportive communication partners would

also provide the opportunity to offer this program to

inpatients with communication disorders who speak

languages other than English. Finally, formal evaluation of

the program is required to investigate the reported

outcomes for patients, clinicians, and volunteers.


Many inpatients with communication disorders do not get

the opportunity to engage in social conversation. The SCV

program provides volunteers with supported conversation

training so that they can provide patients with the

opportunity to have supported, enjoyable conversations.

The speech pathologists, volunteers, and patients have all

reported that the SCV program provides many benefits.

Further evaluation of the program is required to understand

the benefits of this program more fully.


We would like to acknowledge the St Vincent’s Hospital

Speech Pathology Department for their support and

contribution to the program over the past four years, in

particular, Bernadette Price for her contribution to the early

development and establishment of the program and Marinda

Brooks for her contribution to the extension and evaluation

of the program. We would also like to thank the volunteer

managers at St Vincent’s Hospital and St George’s Health

Service for their valued support of the program. Finally, we

would like to thank all the SCV volunteers for volunteering

their time and making a difference to patients with acquired

communication disabilities at St Vincent’s.


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