An interview with Veronica Clark Speech & Language Therapist on August 13, 2023 by George Ackerman, Ph.D, J.D.
I’m Veronica Clark and I have been a Speech Therapist for the past 17 years. I feel like I’ve been on a journey over the past few years, a rebirth of a speech therapist in a way, a bit like a butterfly I suppose.
When I took a career break to birth and raise my two beautiful children, I temporarily stepped away from my passion of being a speech therapist. When I came back to it five years later – well – it looked a little different. I stumbled across the right people at the right time and my passion grew even more. I realized that there was a whole movement of people in my profession who were doing better, learning, researching, collaborating, and providing a whole new level of care. I wanted in! Do better, give more, help more.
Out of that desire, Veronica Clark – Speech Therapy Services was born. As I continue to grow and learn as a therapist, I will always strive to give my patients what they deserve, that is the best version of my services. I will always be in their corner.
I am a family member of a person living with a neurological condition, my mother has lived with Parkinson’s for 21 years. Being on the other end of the spectrum I know what I expect of her health care professionals, and I will never settle for anything less, nor should I with my patients. She deserves the best care as do my patients. My passion for working with people with Parkinson’s stems from just that, having lived through it. My profession, my voluntary experiences with Parkinson’s organizations and my love for my mother set me up to provide the extra mile of care for people living with the same or similar conditions’’.
Please tell me a little about your background and what got you involved with awareness.
I’m Veronica Clark, born and raised in Malta, and for the past 11 years I have lived in the UK with my husband and two young children. I am a Speech Therapist by background working with an adult population having speech and swallowing disorders and I really and truly love what I do! Parkinson’s advocacy has also been a big part of my life for many years now and I cherish every opportunity to actively do this.
Can you tell me more about your advocacy?
My involvement in advocacy over the years has evolved according to where I was in life. Literally whereas in which country, as well as my time and availability. I have worked with organizations supporting people with Parkinson’s in Malta as well as the UK. And also, at a European level. Whether it is chairing a meeting, being part of a working group, writing a journal article, delivering a presentation, providing a space for people to share their experiences, advocacy has many different outlets, but keeping the person with Parkinson’s at the center of it all enables people to continue learning, listening, and working together.
What is your passion and how did you get involved in Parkinson’s awareness and hope for a cure?
I am a family member of a person living with a neurological condition, my mother has lived with Parkinson’s for 22 years. Being on the other end of the spectrum I know what I expect of her health care professionals and the community, and I will never settle for anything less, nor should anyone else. She deserves the best care as do my patients and everyone else living with Parkinson’s. My passion for working with people with Parkinson’s stems from just that, having lived through it. My profession, my voluntary experiences with Parkinson’s organizations and my love for my mother set me up to provide the extra mile of care for people living with the same or similar conditions.
What type of goals do individuals with Parkinson’s have when working with you?
Depending on the scenario people with Parkinson’s could shape the conversations. In my profession as a Speech Therapist this is of utmost importance. People have different needs and different goals. This could be to improve their ability to communicate with their partner, to talk a little louder, to improve their swallow function, to improve their cough strength. Each goal will shape therapy and each person will shape how we achieve that goal.
What effect can your advocacy have on an individual with Parkinson’s?
Overall, I think anyone involved in advocacy can have an impact on both individuals living with Parkinson’s as well as collectively for everyone living with Parkinson’s. When we lobby in the European Parliament for more awareness and understanding on Parkinson’s, or to show the reality of the ever-increasing pandemic which Parkinson’s will become, then we really work at a top-down level to help the whole population of people with Parkinson’s. When we speak on behalf of one person who requires help with something more specific by either directing them to the right place, connecting them with the right health care professionals etc., then we are working more at an individual level. Both models have a big impact or effect on people’s lives.
What would you like to see as a future goal for your advocacy?
I would like to think that I can carry on educating about Parkinson’s, improve healthcare systems and reduce inequalities, improve access to technologies that can assist, and work towards prevention and a cure. That’s more than one goal but I like to be ambitious.
What events do you participate in?
I participate in various events including face to face local events in the UK where I currently live, virtual sessions with communities around the world, face to face global events like the WPC held this year in Barcelona. It’s always so empowering to be given any opportunity to advocate for people with Parkinson’s.
How does this also assist the caregivers?
For me, anything that involves advocacy in Parkinson’s includes caregivers and families alike. The families are also living with the condition, have numerous needs and challenges and cannot be separated from the person living with the condition. Caregivers need to be central to everything we do and need support, education, and love.
How can someone get in touch? What is your website?
The best way to reach me is via email on email@example.com.
However, there is lots of information on my website at www.vcspeechtherapy.com about the services I provide clinically, as well as on social media platforms for Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
If you had one final statement or quote you could leave for the Parkinson’s community, what would it be?
My message would be ‘’There is hope’ & ‘’get involved if you can’’. This is how I felt when I recently attended the World Parkinson’s Congress (WPC) in Barcelona. There are so many people, both individuals and organizations working to better the lives of people with Parkinson’s and their families. This includes thousands of people living with the condition themselves, who despite everything, are at the forefront with their own advocacy plans. Together we are stronger.