a speech language pathologist works with an older adult woman

Staff Stories - December 14, 2021

Q&A with Speech Language Pathologists at Goodwin House

By Timaeus Reed

Humans have developed countless methods to communicate with one another. From the moment we’re born, we constantly express our emotions and ideas in verbal and nonverbal ways. How we express ourselves is part of what makes every individual unique, and some find speech and language more difficult than others.

According to National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders, about 7.5 million Americans have some form of speech or language disorder. As we age, our bodies and health may change in ways that can exacerbate existing speech disorders or create new ones.

Thankfully, Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are trained to help!

Educated with master’s degrees and clinical placements, SLPs can evaluate and treat and all manner of speech, language, swallowing, voice, fluency and cognitive disorders in a variety of settings. SLPs provide therapy services through Goodwin House Rehabilitation at our Life Plan Communities, and through Goodwin House Home Health, our Medicare-certified service that provides care and support to people in their private homes throughout Northern Virginia.

We asked Michelle Rainville and Meredith Kotoski, two Speech Language Pathologists working at Goodwin House, to share insights based on their careers in this field of specialized therapy.

What drew you to a career in speech therapy?

Michelle: Initially, I was drawn to a career in speech therapy because I wanted to work with children in the schools; however, when I was in school, I did a clinical placement in a medical setting, and I LOVED it.

Meredith: I always had an interest in communication—how people talk, the ways in which people comprehend messages, how people interact when they don’t have a common language. Speech Therapy seemed like a natural fit! I wouldn’t change a thing.

What makes working at Goodwin House unique to other therapy settings?

Michelle: Goodwin House is unique in that our therapy department is in-house, which offers several benefits and opportunities as a therapist. Because we work for a large, established organization, we have more flexibility with taking time off, and we get the scope of benefits you would get from working at a larger organization. It’s also nice to be able to work collaboratively with other departments within the greater Goodwin House family. Then there’s the rehabilitation team itself. It’s hard to find a team of people who are all just good souls. Everyone is very professional and understanding, and a real joy to work with.

Meredith: Goodwin House utilizes visual and auditory technology to reach all residents throughout our campuses. This greatly assists those who are hard of hearing, visually impaired or physically unable to get to and from places. Our use of technology increases socialization and helps prevent communication breakdowns. Goodwin House does a great job of making sure our communities function for everyone living or working here, regardless of any speech or other limitations they may have.

What do you like most about your job?

Michelle: The rest of the therapy team that I work with—Goodwin House has an amazing therapy team and director!

Meredith: Every day is different I thoroughly enjoy how warm and inviting everyone is, from the staff to the residents. Everyone wants to help each other; they are engaging and active. It is lovely to see how many diverse activities are held here.

Describe one of your greatest accomplishments with a patient.

Michelle: By far, one of the best parts of my job is when any patient shows improvement in therapy, and I get to see their function and their self-confidence improve!

Meredith: I have worked with many people over the years, but one particular patient comes to mind. Five years prior to our first interaction, this patient had a stroke that led to severe apraxia of speech. This made her almost completely non-verbal. We worked together, and I taught her sign language to help support her verbal skills. With this, she was able to sign and say phrases, make simple requests and greet others. This dramatically improved her social interactions and her overall demeanor.

Speech Therapy Changes Lives

With the help of dedicated professionals like Michelle and Meredith, Goodwin House creates a vibrant caregiving environment for older adults to age happily and healthily. If you or someone you know needs therapy, you can learn more about what’s available through either short-term stays in our Life Plan Communities or through our Home Health offerings. If you want to join our team of exceptional Speech Language Pathologists or learn more about other job opportunities at Goodwin House and what it’s like to work for a top ten Washington Post workplace, follow this link to our careers page.

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Timaeus Reed is a Marketing and Communications Specialist at GHI. He plans, writes and designs for internal and external campaigns that support all areas of the organization. He relocated from Kansas to D.C. to join the team in the summer of 2021. When he isn’t getting lost in traffic, Timaeus loves listening to live Go-Go music and stand-up comedy.

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