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Meet the Music-Comm team

Angela Crocker

Angela has been working as a specialist Speech and language therapist (SLT) with Adults who have a learning disability, since 1995. She is passionate about the creation of accessible information, service user engagement and safeguarding. She is the lead therapist on the development and project work for the dysphagia and inclusive communication services. She enjoys training others and is an accredited Talking Mats trainer. She represents SLT on regional groups, e.g. review of the equality document ‘Making Communication Accessible to All’ and the Department of Health patient and client experience project. She is the lead researcher for the RCSLT Inclusive Communication position paper working group. Enjoys networking, getting involved in campaigning and is a Giving Voice champion. Angela has successfully developed innovative resources such as choking awareness DVD, Music-Comm app, Personal Place Mat, and dysphagia e-learning.

Suzanne Smith

Suzanne graduated from the University of Ulster with a Bsc (Hons) in Speech & Language Therapy in June 1994. She began work as a Speech & Language Therapist in July 1994 working with children with Speech & Language difficulties in Community Clinics before beginning to work with children and adults with Learning Disabilities in September 1994. Suzanne has continued to work with children and adults with learning disabilities in Adult Day centres and the Regional Specialist Hospital for Adults with Learning Disabilities. Suzanne has undertaken various training courses and further study to enhance her work with those with learning disabilities notably in the areas of Makaton and treatment and diagnostic approaches to working with those who have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (PECS, TEACCH, DISCO and ADOS). Suzanne has also recently undertaken training to Masters Level and is now a fully accredited Registered Intermediary with the NI Department of Justice.

Karen Diamond

Karen Diamond is a Music Therapist and is Clinical Services Director with the largest regional music therapy charity in Northern Ireland. She graduated from QUB with a B Mus.Hons and completed her music therapy training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London in 1990. Karen has worked with a wide range of client groups including children and adults with severe learning disabilities, acquired brain injury and mental health issues in health and social care, education, and community settings. In addition to her clinical work she has been responsible for developing and establishing music therapy services across Northern Ireland. Karen has written and presented on the role of music therapy with various clinical populations in Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. In 2013 she successfully completed the training competency for the Music Assessment Tool of Awareness in Disorders of Consciousness tool and is one of only three practitioners on the island of Ireland qualified to use this tool. As a singer she has a professional interest in encouraging clients to vocalise and use music as a means of physiological and psychological benefit. She has devised programmes for staff and carers to become more involved in music making with their clients/family members, writing her MA dissertation on the role of interdisciplinary work in music, voice and movement programmes for adults with severe learning disabilities.

Why we developed Music-Comm

We are very experienced in both music therapy and speech and language therapy and have seen the many benefits that regular music and communication groups can offer people with learning disabilities to improve their communication and in turn, improve their quality of life. However, we have also seen that music and communication groups can be difficult to run and often discontinue when an experienced therapist is not involved. When we asked staff members who had been involved in running the groups, they cited the following as reasons that the groups stopped:

Music-Comm was developed to provide the structure and resources to enable any staff member to run a music and communication group with confidence and to ensure that the groups become a regular event in the member’s lives.