Interview With Chung Hwa of The Home Health SLP Handbook
August 11, 2019
Hwa Brewer, M.A., CCC-SLP, is an artist and Speech-Language Pathologist. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Houston in Texas. She’s the author of The Home Health SLP Handbook. She lives with her family and grumpy old cat in Washington state.
Note: You should consult with your doctor or speech pathologist for recommendations on treatment. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Chung Hwa and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeechPathologyMastersPrograms.com
Why did you choose to enter home health?
After working in a skilled nursing facility (SNF), I knew I wanted to provide more practical therapy to patients, especially cognitive treatment. I figured that there is no setting more practical than a patient’s home, using the tools they already have! I started off per diem but quickly got hooked and went all in with home health within a few months.
Both the Handbook and the website came from my desire to create the resources I wish I’d had when I was new to home health. The Handbook started off as a resource for grad students. My initial goal was to provide even one new SLP with some confidence going into the field, and I expected it to be a 30-page PDF with some practical handouts. However, I kept thinking, “oh I should add this point” and “I wish I knew this info when I started out.” The next thing I knew, I had over 200 pages! I figured it would make more sense as a physical book at that point.
My sister created the website to help me offer much of the knowledge I put in the Handbook for free online. Again, we created the resource I wish I’d had as a new therapist. We also wanted to add some lightheartedness and fun to the world of therapy resources, which can be notorious dry! You’ll see hand-drawn cartoons sprinkled in the Handbook and pops of fun in our blog posts.
What are some of the benefits and challenges to offering therapy in a home setting?
Benefits: autonomy, super practical treatment, patients seem happier in their homes versus other settings, and meeting people’s nice cats.
Challenges: rarely seeing coworkers and supervisors, meeting stand-offish cats. ☹
What are some of the ways in which speech pathology is changing?
The U.S. population is growing older and adult SLPs are in hot demand! However many of the companies that employ SLPs are pushing for higher and higher productivity. Burnout among SLPs is real, but it helps when your team has your back.
Everything in the handbook is evidenced based, how can SLPs make sure that they are up to date on evidence based treatments?
Take one interesting CEU course per month (easily done on speechpathology.com and other online CEU websites). You can also join Facebook groups that specialize in summarizing journal articles.
Between you and your siblings, there is a Speech Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, and Hand Therapist. What have you all learned from each other?
Avocado-related hand injuries come in waves. DPT’s have some really good (and inappropriate) spinal nerve jokes. My sister worked with NICU babies and older kids so it’s fascinating to learn about the development of disabilities across the lifespan. For example, how babies with strokes are treated compared to my own treatment with older adults. My siblings also teach me a lot about anatomy and physiology. Plus, brother is a home health PT, so it’s super helpful discussing how to complete OASIS and how to schedule more efficiently.
What qualities does one need to possess to be successful as a home health SLP?
Open-mindedness, a good sense of humor, and composure will help you connect with patients who may feel uneasy about having a stranger in their homes who is telling them what to do! Skills such as flexibility and time-management help make the day-to-day tasks easier to complete.
What advice do you have for aspiring SLPs?
Stick with the mentors that give you confidence, trust your gut, and change your circumstances if it starts not feeling fun.